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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘berachah’

Kavanah In Davening

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

In this week’s parshah the Torah gives us the mitzvah of tefillahdavening to Hashem – for as the pasuk says, “oso sa’avod – you shall serve Him.” The Torah repeats this mitzvah several times, with another mention further in this week’s parshah: “uleavdo bechal levavchem – serve Him with all of your heart.” The Sifri explains that one serves with his heart by means of tefillah.

The Torah did not set any time for davening or write how often one must daven. The Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah 1:2) says that min haTorah one must daven one time daily. The Ramban (commentary to the Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvos 5) argues that mi’de’oraisa there is no set time to daven, not even once a day. Rather, the obligation to daven is mi’de’rabbanan. The Ramban adds that perhaps there is a mitzvah mi’de’oraisa to daven to Hashem when one is in an eis tzarah.

The Rambam writes in Hilchos Tefillah 4:1 that there are five things that are crucial to tefillah, and that without them the davening is invalid. One of these is kavanah. The Rambam continues (halacha 15) by saying that any tefillah that is said without kavanah is not a tefillah. If one davens without kavanah, he must repeat the davening. One is forbidden to daven until one’s mind is at ease and the person is able to concentrate.

Achronim ask a question on this ruling. The Rambam seems to indicate that one needs to have kavanah throughout the entire tefillah, and if one does not have kavanah throughout the entire tefillah the tefillah is invalid. However, the Gemara in Berachos 34 and the Rambam in Hilchos Tefillah 10:1 say that it is sufficient if one has kavanah in the first berachah alone. From the later Rambam it seems that one is only required to have kavanah in the first berachah – and not in the entire Shemoneh Esrei.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, in his sefer on the Rambam, explains that the Rambam is referring to two different types of kavanah. One is kavanah of the translation and explanation of the words of davening. The other is the kavanah that one must know that he is standing in front of Hashem when he is davening.

The first Rambam that indicated that one must have kavanah throughout the entire tefillah is referring to the kavanah that one must know that he is standing before Hashem when he is davening. If one is not conscious about this throughout one’s davening of Shemoneh Esrei, his tefillah is invalid.

The Gemara in Berachos 34 and the second Rambam, that say that – bedi’eved – it is sufficient if one only has kavanah in the first berachah of Shemoneh Esrei, are referring to understanding the explanation of the words one is saying in davening. It is sufficient if one only understands the words of the first berachah. However, one must have kavanah that he is standing before Hashem when he is davening throughout the entire Shemoneh Esrei.

Reb Chaim explains that the first kavanah of knowing that one is standing before Hashem when davening is required for two reasons, and that both reasons are responsible for applying this kavanah to the entire Shemoneh Esrei. One reason is so that one is not considered mesasek (if one does not have kavanah, it is as if he is doing something else). The second reason is because of the general rule that mitzvos require kavanah. This general rule obligates one to have kavanah throughout the entire mitzvah, for it is not sufficient to have kavanah during only part of the mitzvah. But the kavanah of understanding the explanation of the words that one is saying is a specific kavanah that only applies to the mitzvah of davening. Therefore the Gemara can say that it only applies to part of the mitzvah, namely the first berachah.

Reb Chaim also points out that the Rambam only says that the tefillah is invalid and that one is forbidden to daven until his mind is at ease and he is able to have kavanah as it regards the kavanah of knowing that one is standing before Hashem. Regarding the second kavanah (knowing the explanation of the words), the Rambam does not use the same words. He only says that if one davens without this kavanah he must repeat the Shemoneh Esrei. It seems that there is a difference between the two kavanos. If one does not know that he is standing before Hashem when davening, the tefillah is not a tefillah. However, if one does not know the translation of what he is saying in the first berachah, the tefillah is still a tefillah; one has simply not fulfilled his obligation with that tefillah.

Only At Orchidea

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I had the tremendous zechut to attend the wedding of my granddaughter Rachayli Fuchs to Shaul Klein in June, and then, much to my delight I was able to make one of the Sheva Berachot. My guest list was composed and invitations extended. The divrei Torah would be delivered by my grandson Rabbi Raphael Fuchs and my nephew Meir Greenwald.

Where to hold the Sheva Berachot? For me it was an easy decision. Orchidea, of course.

This was not the first time I would be making Sheva Berachot at Orchidea, located in Boro Park, Brooklyn. Based on past performance I had every reason to expect it would be wonderful – and it was.

Orchidea is a dairy restaurant, which I felt was a nice break from all the meat meals at the weeklong festivities.

I couldn’t bring flowers from the wedding because too many days had passed, so hosts Ofer Kohen and Mazal Werczberger had beautiful candle displays on each table. There was a menu created especially for us at each seat, giving guests an enticing selection of courses and making for a nice keepsake.

I am not a fan of sushi but most of my guests were, and the large sushi platter soon disappeared, though at the same time waiters were serving hors devoir. My favorite was the avocado salad on tortilla chips; my sister liked the coconut crusted fish on the skewer.

The grilled salmon at Orchidea is outstanding – an opinion shared by everyone who ordered it – but those who ordered the pasta dish or the eggplant felt the same way about their choices. The dessert, composed of cheesecake, chocolate cake, ice cream and napoleon, all arranged on the same plate, was a work of art in addition to being a culinary delight.

Getting together with good friends gives one a very special feeling. Being together for a mitzvah such as Sheva Berachot makes the occasion even more special. Add the divrei Torah, the beautiful words of the chattan, seeing the happiness on the face of a beloved granddaughter and hearing the magnificent voice of my chazzan, Pinchas Cohen, as he sang the last berachah – put all of that into Orchidea and it is no wonder the evening was one that will long be remembered.

(For more information on Orchidea, see The Jewish Press Dining Guide in this issue.)

A Parent’s Anguish

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

This is the most painful letter I’ve ever written. I’ve been through many horrific experiences. My parents were survivors of the Holocaust; they were shattered people. I know you will understand this since you too are a Holocaust survivor.

The scars of that period never heal in those who went through it. As much as my parents celebrated, as much as they laughed and rejoiced, the nightmare was forever with them. My parents raised us with much love. They literally lived for us. They saw their entire families wiped out and now their children represented all that was lost. They never felt a need take a vacation alone – when they did go away it was always with us, their children.

This was the nurturing I was exposed to, and I brought up my own children the same way. They were always my first priority. I was always home for them. I was always there for them. This was equally true of my husband.

As we know, at the bris of every baby boy we say a berachah that the child may merit to enter the covenant of Torah, chuppah and ma’asim tovim. Yes, the dream of Torah-committed parents is different from that of secular parents, whose hope is that the child will grow up to be successful, which in our society means to make loads of money.

Every Friday evening when I lit Shabbos candles I took an extra few moments to pour out my heart and beseech Hashem to grant my husband and me the privilege of seeing our children under the chuppah embracing a genuine Torah life.

Hashem blessed us with eight children – six boys and two girls. Baruch Hashem, all our children found good shiduchim and we saw them all under the chuppah. But very soon everything fell apart with one of them.

I once met a woman from Jerusalem who had five children, one of whom was killed while serving in the army. An insensitive person visiting her during the days of shiva foolishly said, “Thank G-d you still have four children.” She told me that remark was like a knife in her heart. If somebody has five fingers and one is amputated, would you say to that person, “Your hand is fine – after all, it’s just one finger that’s been severed”? If you lose a finger your entire hand is damaged and can no longer do that which seemed so simple only yesterday.

I often think about that woman’s story. In a way I too have lost a finger have been offered foolish consolation. “Don’t get upset, you still have seven children from whom you have nachas.” They can’t comprehend that I go to sleep and wake up with just one thought: “My child, my child, my child is missing.”

My other children are exemplary in their commitment to Torah, their devotion to mitzvos and the respect and love they show us, but this one son and his wife have caused us terrible anguish. And that anguish has taken over our lives and gives us no peace.

This one son married a girl who has agendas. I do not pretend to be a psychologist so I will not even attempt to analyze the situation. But this little wife has made a great breach in our family and destroyed our harmony, our unity. She does not talk to or recognize any of my other children, her husband’s siblings. She does not visit them and does not communicate with them. She will not allow my son to see his siblings or to visit and talk to them.

My son gives the impression that he is in accord with this. The cousins do not know each other. They are not permitted to spend time together.

Why does my son allow this? I don’t know. We all live in the same community and our family tragedy has become public knowledge. Our entire family has suffered. A hundred and one times I have tried to reach my son and daughter-in-law but it has been to no avail. The same holds true for the attempts made by my other children.

My husband and I begged, cajoled, and compromised our dignity – and our children did the same – but our son and daughter-in-law snubbed all our efforts. They locked their doors and their hearts.

Daf Yomi

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Soul Food
‘It Comes To Include A Fragrance’
(Niddah 52a)

One must recite a berachah prior to eating (berachah rishonah) and another one after eating (berachah acharonah). The mishnah on 51b states that there are some instances where only a berachah rishonah is required.

The Gemara explains that the mishnah is referring to someone who smells a pleasant fragrance. He should recite a berachah (“borei minei besamim”) prior to smelling the fragrance, but not afterwards.

Why not? Rashi (s.v. “reichani”) explains that one berachah is sufficient since smelling only provides a han’ah mu’etes, a limited amount of pleasure.

Quick And Immediate

Alternatively, the Kol Bo (cited by Sha’arei Tziyun, Orach Chayim 216, sk3) explains that there is a time limit within which a berachah acharonah may be recited. The berachah acharonah after eating must be recited before the food is digested. If a longer period has elapsed and a person no longer feels satiated from his meal, he may no longer recite a berachah acharonah. By the same token, a person does not recite a berachah acharonah after smelling a fragrance because the pleasure he derives does no linger. Thus the time limit to recite a berachah acharonahin the instance of a fragrance expires immediately.

No Bodily Benefit

The Me’iri (Yalkut Hame’iri citing Berachos 42b) offers yet another reason. He writes that smell is something that benefits the soul, but not the body. Therefore, one cannot say the berachah acharonah.

This week’s Daf Yomi Highlights is based upon Al Hadaf, published by Cong. Al Hadaf, 17N Rigaud Rd., Spring Valley, NY 10977-2533. Al Hadaf, published semi-monthly, is available by subscription: U.S. – $40 per year; Canada – $54 per year; overseas – $65 per year. For dedication information contact Rabbi Zev Dickstein, editor, at 845-356-9114 or visit Alhadafyomi.org.

The Draft Controversy In Israel

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

A comment by Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz the other day set us thinking about an element in the draft debate that could only manifest itself in an Israeli context.

Mr. Mofaz spoke at length on the issue to Israel TV’s Channel 2 , saying he believed the government could successfully put together a bill to replace the Tal Law, which largely exempts most full-time adult yeshiva students from army service but which the Israeli Supreme Court recently struck down. Then, in a follow-up interview with Channel 10, he added that service “is part of our DNA as Jews.”

Surely he was referring to the obligations citizens in a democracy have to their government and its institutions, particularly its military component. But non-Jews also bear that trait as well. Could it be that the devoutly secular Mr. Mofaz thinks the Jewish version is special?

Many are aware of the Jewish concept of areivus, which is loosely translated as the visceral tendency of Jews to take care of one another. In fact, it is more than that.

The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah says a person who keeps all the mitzvos but doesn’t share in the travails of Klal Yisrael “will have no portion in the World to Come.”

The famed Lakewood Rosh Yeshiva Rav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, alluded to that in a discussion of why someone who had already made Kiddush on Shabbos was still able to make it for someone else who had not yet heard it. It is not, he said, a berachah levatalah – a superfluous berachah – because all Jews are interconnected parts of a whole, so that the failure of someone to hear Kiddush constitutes an original obligation on the part of the person making Kiddush for him.

To those of us who believe that “Jewish DNA” is reflective of the Torah in every respect, we must accept that all Jews are entitled to each other’s protection. To be sure, part of the continuing draft conflict in Israel is the lack of universal acceptance of the notion that learning Torah provides protection for Jews even as does serving in the IDF. But both sides of the divide accept the obligation of areivus. And that is certainly notable.

It is interesting, and perhaps not coincidental, that the outlines of the agreement being seriously considered calls for a five-year draft deferment for all haredi young men learning in yeshivas with an additional delay or even a lifetime exemption available for exceptional students. One cannot fail to note how closely this formula tracks the typical conversation that prospective mechutanim have about how long their son or son-in-law will be supported in kollel.

This is an important development in terms of addressing the conundrum of dealing with the prospect that a Jewish state would institutionally limit the time a Jew can spend learning Torah. Relatedly, we hope it also reflects a willingness to provide full accommodation of the religious needs of haredim and others who are observant.

May One Finish Davening After The Z’man?

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

In this week’s parshah Balak hires Bilam to curse the Jews. The Gemaras in Berachos 7a and Avodah Zarah 4a say that there is a very brief moment during each day when Hashem allows himself to get angry. The Gemara says that no one was ever able to exact that moment except for Bilam the rasha, as it says: “veyode’a das elyon – and he knew Hashem’s knowledge.” The Gemara explains that this pasuk teaches us that Bilam knew this moment because we cannot explain that he knew Hashem’s knowledge, when he didn’t even know his animal’s knowledge; rather, it teaches us that he knew this moment. The Gemara then quotes from the Navi Micha, explaining that Hashem did so many tzedakos for us during Bilam’s lifetime, as He did not get angry even for that moment each day. Had Hashem gotten angry, Bilam would have been able to curse the Jews.

Tosafos asks how Bilam could have cursed the Jews in such a short span of time. What could he have said? Tosafos gives two answers: 1) He could have said the word “kaleim (destroy them)”; and 2) It was only necessary, Tosafos says in the name of Rabbi Eliyahu, for Bilam to start his curse during the brief moment, and it would in effect be as if the whole curse was said at the appropriate time. He says that based on the length of the pasukim, we can see that Bilam intended to give a lengthy curse (which Hashem turned into a berachah). Therefore, he asserts, it would suffice to merely start his curse during the moment of Hashem’s anger and continue cursing even after the moment has passed.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 110) says that in a pressing situation, e.g. a traveler who feels that he will be disturbed and thus cannot daven a full Shemoneh Esrei, the traveler may daven a shortened version. This consists of the first three berachos, followed by a berachah called havi’neinu (which comprises all of the middle berachos of Shemoneh Esrei), and concludes with the last three berachos. The Magen Avraham adds that another situation when one may daven this shortened version of Shemoneh Esrei is when the time to daven that particular tefillah is about to pass and he feels that he will not be able to complete the davening of a regular Shemoneh Esrei before time runs out.

The Aruch HaShulchan questions this opinion from the abovementioned Tosafos: It seems from the Magen Avraham that if one starts to daven during its proper time and finishes after the allotted time, his tefillah is not good. However, Tosafos (Berachos and Avodah Zarah) says that Bilam could have started his curse during the proper time and finished afterwards, making it effective. So the Aruch HaShulchan says that the same should hold true for tefillah, and one should be able to start his tefillah during the allotted time and continue to daven thereafter.

The Aruch HaShulchan, however, is very difficult to understand. How can he compare the allotted time to daven to that of the moment when Hashem gets angry as Bilam intends to curse the Jews? If one davens after the allotted time, he is not yotzei the davening. But regarding Bilam’s cursing of the Jews, there is nothing lacking if he curses after Hashem is no longer angry. It is only that he wanted the curse to be more effective, and therefore wanted to curse them while Hashem was still angry. For this, Tosafos says that it is effective if Bilam merely starts in the proper time. The entire curse, even the part after the time when Hashem is no longer angry, is all the more effective. Nonetheless, davening after the z’man is a problem as per the actual davening. So how does it help to only start the davening in the proper time?

Perhaps the p’shat in the Aruch HaShulchan is that he understands that z’man tefillah is not a time when one must daven after which the tefillah is disqualified, but rather a time when one’s tefillah will be most accepted. That is why the rabbanan established those times to daven. Therefore it is comparable to what Tosafos says regarding Bilam. Since in both scenarios the proper time for each one is only a better time for the tefillah/curse to be accepted, if one merely starts in the proper time the entire tefillah/curse will be accepted – as if it was all said in the proper time.

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part V)

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shmoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashana 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

In Sefer Abudarham Hashalem (p. 73-74), Rabbi David Abudarham (1258-1295) states that Nakdishach [Nekadesh] and the like [Keter – Na’aritzach] are devarim she’b’kedushah (matters involving sanctifying Hashem) and require a quorum for recital while the kedushah of Yotzer Ohr and U’va Letziyyon may be said without a quorum. He confirms this as being noted in siddurim of his time. He explains that the latter kedushot refute those who deny G-d’s presence in the world by relating how all creation praises Him. The former kedushot are joint offers of praise with the angels (Rabbi Emden in his Siddur Beit Yaakov).

Many do not follow the correct responsive procedure for Kedushah, and since the practice is widespread, it may have to overlooked (Berachot 45a). If the congregants will miss z’man tefillah, however, the Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) writes that they should quietly recite along with the chazzan until after Kedushah. At least one person who already prayed, even a child, should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings to substantiates the shelichut of the chazzan. Those praying with the chazzan may not respond “Amen.”

Another prayer style when time is pressing is as follows: The chazzan begins the Amida, and after “HaKel HaKadosh,” everyone begins their silent Amidah (while the chazzan continues quietly with his own Amida). (See Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 124 sk8.) This procedure is commonly performed for Mincha, especially in yeshivot.

This week, we turn to Modim.

* * * * *

The tefillah of Modim is so important that we find the following in the Gemara (Berachot 21b): “R. Huna stated, ‘A person who enters a synagogue and finds the congregation in the midst of prayer [the silent Amida] should pray if he is able to begin and conclude [the Amida] before the chazzan reaches Modim. However, if he will not be able to [conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim] he should not pray.’ ”

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 109:1) codifies this halacha as follows: “A person who one enters [a synagogue] after kedushah should pray if he is able to begin and conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. However, if he will not be able to do so, he should not pray” (emphasis added).

The Mechaber’s citation takes into account the view of R. Yehoshua b. Levi (Berachot 21b, infra) that only if a latecomer is able to commence and conclude in time to recite Kedushah may he begin his Amida. Therefore, when talking about Modim, the Mechaber frames the question in terms of someone arriving after Kedushah has already been said. That person must quickly assess whether, in that short time span, he will have sufficient time to begin and conclude his Amida in time to recite Modim with the congregation. (Of course, if this person will miss z’man tefillah by waiting, he should, without hesitation, immediately begin saying his own Amida.)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-chazzan-and-congregation-part-v/2012/06/21/

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