web analytics
October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Prayer By Rote: Is Prayer Really That Simple

Winter-112213-Prayer

Jewish Prayer: The Right Way, Resolving Halachic Dilemmas; Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen; Urim Publications

 

The Rambam, in his opening chapter to the laws of tefillah (Hilchot Tefillah 1:1), states the following: “It is a positive command to pray every day, as it states in Exodus 23:25: ‘Va’avadetem eit Hashem Elokeichem… – You shall serve Hashem your G-d…’ ” We have learned, as transmitted by tradition, that this avodah is prayer, as it states in Deuteronomy 11:13: “U’le’avdo b’chol levavchem… – to serve Him with all your heart…” Our sages (Ta’anit 2a) offer this explanation: “What is [meant by] service of the heart? This is prayer. And the number of [daily] prayers is not Biblically commanded, nor is their form [text]. And [lastly] prayer has no Biblically-set time.”

Rambam sets forth no less than 15 chapters specifically devoted to the topic of prayer. He includes its laws in numerous other chapters in his magnum opus work, the Yad Hachazakah. The Tur, the Mechaber and the Rema devote no less than 45 simanim to this topic. Notwithstanding, many of our present day practices will not be found in their works. Yet, as these are ingrained in our prayer service, we question why and where. That is, many of these practices seem to have no reason and no obvious source.

Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen is an erudite scholar and long-serving pulpit rabbi in numerous positions in the U.S. and Australia, a prolific author of seven books on halacha, and a longtime halacha columnist for The Jewish Press. He set about to resolve these dilemmas with the publication of his most recent work, Jewish Prayer: The Right Way, Resolving Halachic Dilemmas.

In this volume Rabbi Cohen navigates the many written Responsa, as well as oral sources, in his quest to bring clarity to some of these dilemmas.

In one of his chapters, whereby he delves into a practice we do almost by rote, he addresses the issue of standing up during the last segment of Shacharit’s pesukei d’zimrah section: the prayer, Vayevarech David. He cites the Rema (Orach Chaim 51:7) as the source for our standing; however, no rationale is presented. Being a congregational rabbi, his astuteness is not exclusive to seeking the counsel of fellow scholars but he looks for halacha from any possible source. Thus a chance conversation with a lay member of his congregation can also prove to be a valuable source for halachic practice.

The following is what he culled from one such conversation. The individual had attended a parlor meeting where he heard HaGaon Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky, zt”l, provide the following reason for this custom: since a gabbai tzedakah usually circulates the synagogue at this juncture (see Be’er Heiteiv, Orach Chaim 51:7) with the pushka, it is customary to stand as a matter of deference to the gabbai and his role.

The source appears to be a Talmudic citation (Kiddushin 33a) that contends that the artisans of Jerusalem used to stand in order to extend kavod to the Jews who brought bikkurim (first fruits) to Jerusalem. This is to say they stood before those who were performing the mitzvah of bikkurim.

Rabbi Cohen makes note of the Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chaim 51:19) that states that upon uttering the words (in this prayer) “v’atah mosheil bakol – and You will rule over all,” the Ari HaKadosh would stand and give charity. Thus he notes that the custom to stand is based on three interrelated mitzvot: 1) a person is giving charity, and therefore stands for the performance of his personal mitzvah; 2) he gives kavod to the gabbai tzedakah who collects charity, and 3) he gives kavod to others who give charity. Accordingly, the custom to stand relates to the mitzvah of charity rather than to the significance of the Vayevarech David recitation itself.

Yet Rabbi Cohen adds that he posed this question to his father-in-law, HaGaon Rabbi Yaakov Nayman, zt”l, a noted disciple of the Brisker Rav, who without hesitation responded that we stand out of respect for a prayer whose subset is King David’s blessing of Hashem and Klal Yisrael. A berachah of such significance, in which the entirety of the Jewish people are blessed, merits an act of special kavod. Jews stand to emphasize the importance of such a blessing as well as to demonstrate their appreciation and acceptance of this royal berachah.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Prayer By Rote: Is Prayer Really That Simple”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
IDF soldiers are evacuated to a hospital after a terror attack.
Photo credit: Smiley Hafuch / Rotter.net
IDF Soldiers Injured in Terror Attack From Sinai
Latest Sections Stories

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

Social disabilities occur at many levels, but experts identify three different areas of learning and behavior that are most common for children who struggle to create lasting social connections.

Sukkot is an eternal time of joy, and if we are worthy, of plenty.

Two of our brothers, Jonathan Pollard and Alan Gross, sit in the pit of captivity. We have a mandate to see that they are freed.

Chabad of South Broward has 15 Chabad Houses in ten cities.

Victor Center works in partnership with healthcare professionals, clergy, and the community to sponsor education programs and college campus out reach.

So just in case you’re stuck in the house this Chol HaMoed – because there’s a new baby or because someone has a cold – not because of anything worse, here are six ideas for family fun at home.

We are told that someone who says that God’s mercy extends to a bird’s nest should be silenced.

Our harps have 22 strings. This gives musicians a wide musical range and yet stays within Biblical parameters.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Questions-Answers-logo

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/prayer-by-rote-is-prayer-really-that-simple/2013/11/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: