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Shabbat Parashat Haazinu/ Yom Kippur| 5771

Ein Ayah: Praise Before Prayer as a Means of Understanding the Nature of Prayer

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 5:71)

Gemara: Rabbi Simla’i expounded: One should always arrange his praises of Hashem and then pray. [This is learned from the formulation of Moshe’s prayer that begins Parashat Vaetchanan.]


Ein Ayah: Prayer must be done in such a way that there is nothing that encourages the misconception that Hashem changes His mind or is affected by the prayer. If one does think that Hashem changes His mind, it is a mistake regarding the Divine, which always runs the risk of destroying human shleimut (completeness). This would be a shame to happen during prayer, whose goal, beyond that of receiving the good one requests, is to elevate the spirit of the one who prayed with the proper frame of mind.

Therefore, one must realize that the efficacy of prayer is a wonderful device that Hashem built into the world to help make human beings complete [as they should feel that Hashem answers them through their turning to Him]. It is not something that is part of the nature of Hashem. For this reason, one should first praise Hashem before every prayer, to show that we find it praiseworthy that Hashem created an element of nature that incorporates the efficacy of prayer, which one might euphemistically consider a part of Divine nature.  

The proof from Moshe is significantly appropriate. Moshe certainly knew enough about Hashem that there was no fear that he would think his prayer would change Hashem’s desire. Still, he began with great praise to actualize the proper outlook on Hashem so that it would be in his heart during the prayer. It goes without saying that this is necessary for those people who are very apt to misunderstand Hashem and the role of prayer.


The Power of the Prayer of a Pure Soul

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 5:72)


Gemara: Rabbi Elazar said: Prayer is greater than good deeds, for no one was greater in good deeds than Moshe Rabbeinu, and still he was answered only through prayer, as the pasuk says: “It is enough; do not speak to Me any more in this matter” (Devarim 3:26).


Ein Ayah: The spirit of a tzaddik is special in regard to two things: 1) the good actions he performs; 2) the special nature of his pure spirit, which is crowned by the acquisition of good character traits and proper philosophical perspectives. The value of the latter is very great.

A manner in which the spirit is revealed by means of its internal nature, and not by events or actions, is through prayer of purity. For this reason, prayer is described as spilling forth the spirit before Hashem (see Tehillim 116:11). This is what the gemara means by saying that prayer is greater than good actions, which can be viewed as being almost incidental in relation to the spirit. The proof is from Moshe Rabbeinu, whom no one surpassed in good actions, yet the virtue of his actions was not enough to remove the decree from upon him. In contrast, prayer could have succeeded, which is why Hashem commanded him to stop praying. Prayer reveals the value of the pure spirit, so that when one focuses on a goal, Hashem gives the prayer efficacy, according to the level and virtue of the one who prays. The virtue of good actions would not have the same effect of focusing the person’s sanctity on a specific request. In that context, Hashem told Moshe to go to the summit of the mountain to show that the extent to which his request was accepted (that he was allowed to see the Land) was due to the virtue of the innate level of his spirit and through the power of prayer.


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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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