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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Hilchos Tefillah’

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.

Is Ma’ariv Really Optional?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

In the beginning of this week’s parshah the Torah writes about Yaakov Avinu’s departure from his father’s house in Beersheva. The pasuk says, “Vayifga bamakom – and he met the place.” This pasuk carries many deeper levels of understanding aside from the pashut p’shat. Rashi explains that the “place” that the pasuk is referring to is Har Hamoriah. The Gemara in Chullin 91b explains that Hashem lifted the mountain and brought it to Yaakov; hence the wording, “and he met the place.” The Gemara in Berachos 26b explains that the word “vayifga” means to daven, and that it was at this point that Yaakov Avinu instituted the tefillah of Ma’ariv.

The Gemara in Berachos 27b says that although all of the tefillos are mandatory, the tefillah of Ma’ariv is rishus (voluntary). Tosafos (Berachos 26a) points out that one may not decide not to daven Ma’ariv unless there is an adequate reason, i.e. another time-sensitive mitzvah.

The scenario that the Gemara describes in Berachos 21a discusses the halacha when one is in the middle of davening Shemoneh Esrei and realizes that he had already davened this tefillah. The Gemara says that he should stop davening immediately, even if he is in the middle of a berachah. Even though one may daven a tefillas nedavah (a voluntary tefillah) whenever he desires, he must stop in the middle since he initially began davening under the impression that the tefillah was obligatory. The Tosafos Harash explains that just as there are no korbanos that are part obligatory and part voluntary, so too there cannot be a tefillah that is part obligatory and part voluntary.

Based on this, the Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah 10:6) wrote a tremendous chiddush. He wrote that the abovementioned Gemara – that discusses the halacha concerning one’s realization in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei that he has already davened that tefillah – should not apply when the tefillah that one is in the midst of reciting is Ma’ariv. The reason for this ruling is that since the tefillah of Ma’ariv is voluntary, it can connect to a tefillas nedavah. Therefore, if one was in the middle of davening Ma’ariv and realized that he had already davened Ma’ariv, he may continue davening as a nedavah if he desires. Since both tefillos are voluntary, they should be able to connect as one voluntary tefillah.

The Raavad disagreed with this p’sak and, as explained by the Kesef Mishnah, argued that for many generations Klal Yisrael have accepted upon themselves an obligation to daven Ma’ariv. Even the Rambam himself writes (Hilchos Tefillah 1:6) that all of Yisrael, wherever they are, have accepted to daven Ma’ariv involuntarily. So how can the Rambam say that the tefillah of Ma’ariv can connect with a tefillas nedavah – since they are both voluntary?

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, zt’l, in his sefer on the Rambam, suggests the following approach to understanding the ruling of the Rambam: although Klal Yisrael have accepted upon themselves to daven Ma’ariv involuntarily, nevertheless the type of tefillah remains the same. Since the tefillah of Ma’ariv was instituted as a voluntary tefillah, it remains that type of tefillah in its essence. In other words, one can have an obligation to daven a voluntary type of tefillah. The obligation to daven a particular tefillah does not affect the type of tefillah that it is in its essence. Therefore the tefillah of Ma’ariv can connect with a tefillas nedavah since they are both voluntary tefillos in essence.

On the other hand, the Raavad believes that whether one is obligated to daven a certain tefillah will affect the type of tefillah that it is. Therefore since we have accepted upon ourselves to daven Ma’ariv involuntarily, the tefillah becomes an obligatory tefillah and can no longer connect to a tefillas nedavah.

The Rambam (HilchosTefillah 1:10) writes that there are some gaonim who were of the opinion that one may not daven a tefillas nedavah on Shabbos since we do not bring a korban nedavah on Shabbos. The implication from the Rambam is that he agrees with this view. This, however, raises the following question: how can one daven Ma’ariv on Shabbos if, according to the Rambam, it is a voluntary tefillah in essence?

I want to suggest that although Ma’ariv is a voluntary tefillah in its essence, it differs from a nedavah. The similarity that Ma’ariv shares with a tefillas nedavah is that they are both voluntary, and therefore they can be connected. However the Gemara in Berachos 26b says that all of the teffilos correspond to different korbanosShacharis corresponds to the tamid shel shachar, Minchah to the tamid shel bein ha’arbaim, and Ma’ariv to the aimurim of the korbanos (which even if they are not brought, the korban is effective). It is for this reason that Ma’ariv is a rishus. Therefore, even though Ma’ariv is voluntary, it corresponds to the aimurim that are brought even on Shabbos. A korban nedavah, however, is not brought on Shabbos, and therefore one cannot daven a tefillas nedavah on Shabbos.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/is-ma%e2%80%99ariv-really-optional/2011/11/30/

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