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Shabbat Parashat Shelach| 5770

Ein Ayah: The Special Focus on Yerushalayim

(condensed from Berachot 4:56)

Gemara: One who is outside Israel, should focus his prayers on Israel; those in Israel should focus on Yerushalayim; one who is in Yerushalayim … It turns out that all of the Jewish Nation is focused on one place. Rav Avin said: What is the pasuk [that expresses this idea]? “Like the Tower of David is your neck, built as talpiyot” (Shir Hashirim 4:4). [Talpiyot hints at the idea that it is a ruins to which all face.]


Ein Ayah: All national sites in the world attract the masses only when they are occupied because then they provide material benefit to those who are connected to them. However, the connection that all of Israel has to the place of the Beit Hamikdash is unrelated to the physical aspirations but to the goal of a great light that will emerge when the nation will be prominent, as the people unite in the Holy Land. Therefore, even when the site is in ruins, all eyes are turned to it, as the Divine Presence never left the western wall (Shemot Rabba 2:2).

In that way, the Beit Hamikdash was built with the spiritual characteristic that even when it is desolate, still everyone will focus on it. This is connected to the idea of the “Tower of David.” That great warrior and king intended that even the national security was desired in order to reach an ideal level of spirituality through the nation’s all-around greatness. David occupied himself in writing psalms and Torah study to indicate that the greatness of the kingdom is a means to reach true completeness in knowledge and fear of Hashem.


Preparations for Prayer

(condensed from Berachot 5:1-2)


Gemara: One should always approach prayer with koved rosh (seriousness- literally, a heavy head). The early pious people would wait an hour before praying so that they could focus their hearts on their Father in the Heaven.


Ein Ayah: Koved rosh is a euphemism that connotes that although one sometimes is wise enough to reach serious matters, these ideas may still be insufficiently rooted in his heart. If so, he will not act upon these ideas, and they will not stand up to curb his desires. This is called being light and thereby being easily blown away or having kalut rosh (light headedness).

In contrast, when the pure thoughts are rooted well in the heart and acquired by one’s nature, we call it koved rosh. The main hope for our prayers is to take ideas that are known to the intellect and plant them permanently in one’s nature. For this he has to prepare. It is uncommon for one to be able to improve the nature of his heart in a short time. However, it is possible to strengthen the dominion that the intellect has over his persona so that it can force the heart to follow it. This is what happens through koved rosh.

While the above suffices for most people, there were early pious people who strove for more. They were unwilling to leave the heart with its animalistic tendency. They, therefore, would wait for an hour in order to straighten their hearts/natures until they were focused on their Father in the Heaven. The intellect can be impacted relatively quickly by picturing that which is good in the eyes of the mind and agreeing to it in one glance because it is a “free power” that is not engrained in materialism. However, the heart, which is connected to physicality, requires significant time to choose its tendencies and turn them into operative good powers. That is why the early pious people would prepare for a long time, long enough to prepare their hearts.


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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of

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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