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Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh | 5769

The Placement of Yihiyu LRatzon

Ein Ayah

(based on Berachot 1: 119-120)


Gemara: Let us consider. The words, “Yihiyu l’ratzon imrei fi (Let my mouth’s sayings and my heart’s thoughts be accepted in good will before You)” (Tehillim 19:15), are relevant both before and after prayer. Why did the rabbis institute it after the 18 blessings? It is because David said it only after 18 psalms. Isn’t it after 19 psalms? “Praiseworthy is the man…” (Tehillim 1) and “Why did the nations churn …” (ibid. 2) form one section.


Ein Ayah: Upon deliberating whether it is fit to make a short prayer that our prayers will be accepted before or after prayer, we see both possibilities have logic. There is an advantage to do it before prayer so that it will arouse a person’s heart to pray with proper intent. This is a great element of shleimut (completeness) beyond the gain achieved by our prayers being accepted and our requests fulfilled.

There is also an advantage to making this request after prayer because it is fit to notice that prayer is intended to impact on man’s behavior, which should be good and clean after the prayer in a manner that resembles the spiritual elevation he experienced during prayer. This is as the rabbi in the Kuzari said that the light of prayer should illuminate the spirit in a manner that lasts until the next prayer. It slowly dims until its light is renewed at the next prayer. Therefore, it is proper to pray after the prayer that the words and feelings be in good will, including that they should have their intended effect on the heart in the best way even during the time he is away from prayer. Therefore, it is most appropriate to say this prayer as he is ready to take leave of his prayers and become involved in dealings that are divorced from holy ideas.

One should not deny that during prayer one can reach very high emotions of holiness, which are too lofty to relate to life’s mundane elements. Thus, it would be good to request, as prayer commences, to succeed in reaching these lofty levels at the right time. We learned, though, from the fact that King David uttered this prayer after 18 chapters, that there is greater gain in attaching the uplifted state to one’s practical daily attributes and activities. This exceeds the gains of having lofty ideals that last only while one has them, even though those too are good and pleasant. That is why David is called “the pleasant psalmist of Israel” and “the man placed above” (Shmuel II, 23:1). In other words, his elevated spirit was preserved. He strove to have his actions resemble the high state that he had during his prayers, the prayers of the straight. We learn that the main gain from spilling out his spirit before its Maker in prayer is in its connection to the constant behavior in life. Thereby, one sanctifies his life until it is close to the holy emotions that are reached in the holy moments of prayer.


Man’s shleimut is when he tries to perfect himself individually as much as he can. However, he must realize clearly that no personal shleimut can be reached unless the whole (k’lal) is completed in Israelite national success. From that success will flow the success of all of mankind.

One should be careful that his interest in the shleimut of the klal not compromise his personal shleimut in good actions and traits. The whole cannot be complete without its components being complete and successful. On the other hand, he should not think that he can reach personal shleimut without yearning with all his heart for the klal’s shleimut and success. Only when his diligent striving for personal shleimut joins together with interest in the klal’s shleimut will he reach true good fortune. That is why, “Praiseworthy is the man…,” which deals exclusively with personal shleimut and “Why do the nations churn…,” which deals exclusively with the matters of the klal form one section, and are combined with an “ashrei” in the beginning and the end.


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of

Yehudah ben Naftali Hertz Cohen (Kamofsky)

Yehoshua ben Yaakov z”l (Egon Mayer) By Ernest & Judith Gottdiener


as well as

R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga  Brachfeld



Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker

and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.


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