Achron Shel Pesach Dvar Torah: The Art of Prayer

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    1. The Art of Prayer: very meaningful

    ופרעה הקריב וישאו בני ישראל את עיניהם והנה מצרים נסע אחריהם וייראו מאד ויצעקו בני ישראל אל ה’
    Pharaoh drew near, and the Children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold! Egypt was traveling after them. They were very frightened, and the Children of Israel cried out to Hashem (Shemos 14:10).
    Based on the word “Vayitzaku – And they cried out,” Rashi explains that the Jews seized the art of their ancestors and davened to Hashem. He then brings proofs from the verses about Avraham (Bereishis 19:27), Yitzchak (ibid. 24:63), and Yaakov (ibid. 28:11) that our Patriarchs also prayed.
    We are all familiar with emotions that evoke a cry of prayer. When confronted by tragedy or great need, we turn to Hashem in desperation. Sitting in a waiting room outside an intensive care unit, one sees firsthand the truth in the maxim: There is no atheist in a foxhole. The prayers said at these stressful times flow easily, from deep within the heart.
    But what of the prayers on an ordinary day, with the dogs at bay and the waters still? What posture and attitude do we need to take then?
    We are faced with another question. Why does Rashi need to tell us that the Jews followed the practice of their forefathers? Is something gained by this comparison?
    Rav Yerucham Levovitz (Daas Torah on Beshalach) suggests that this comparison teaches us something both fundamental and critical about the nature of our tefillos.
    The first pasuk (Bereishis 19:27) brought in Rashi describes the day after Avraham’s heartfelt petition on behalf of Sodom. After his petition was declined, Avraham went back the next day to pray at the same place. This is proof, writes Rashi, that Avraham had a practice to pray. But it was not for anything special.
    The second pasuk (ibid. 24:63) finds Yitzchak going out in the late afternoon to pray in the field. Again, there was no special motivating event prompting his prayer; it was just his practice.
    The third pasuk (ibid. 28:11) describes Yaakov praying while on the way to his uncle Lavan. Rashi tells us (V. 17) that Yaakov could not allow himself to pass the site of the future holy Temple without praying: “After all, my forebears prayed at that site.” Here, too, this was not at a time of despair.
    None of their prayers were prompted by an impending crisis or threat, but tefillah comprised their daily routine. In fact, the Gemara (Berachos 26b) cites these pesukim as the source of our Patriarchs’ institution of daily prayer.
    How can their prayers be compared with that of the Bnei Yisrael, who were surrounded in every direction – with a merciless desert on two sides, the sea in the front, and the point of a spear to the rear – and had no choice but to cry out to Hashem? In what sense can we say that they seized the art of their ancestors?
    What we must say, writes Rav Yerucham, is that the Avos had the same desperation in their daily prayers as Bnei Yisrael had in their outcry for mercy and compassion at the edge of the Yam Suf.
    At that time, we understood that our lives were on the line, and there was nowhere else to turn; that is the way the Avos lived every day. For them, prayer – with the greatest kavanah – was not just another mitzvah that had to be done; it was a lifesaving act. Even without any specific threat, we must beseech Him for our very existence.
    This is the lesson of Rashi. Our challenge is to see this truth, for then we can follow in the ways of our Patriarchs.

    Reb Eliezer

    It says אברהם תיקן תפילת שחרית the word tikun means that there is something something wrong that has to be fixed but it was brand new, Says the Chasan Sofer, that Avraham saw that people will not have the proper kavonos in the tefila, so Avraham instilled the kavonos into shacharis.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Rabbenu Bechaye in Parashas Korach explaines why we put our feet together at shmonei esrei. A person should recognize that with out the help of Hashem he cannot move being tied up togetber.


    The Chasan Sofer is very nice, but it is not fair to post it here. The Chasan Sofer is diametrically opposed to Reb Yerucham’s idea that Rabbi Bukspan said over, and it’s not right to weaken the impact of Reb Yerucham’s idea.
    Reb Yerucham is saying that we all know how to daven when we are to be hanged within the week, and we have to learn from the Avos that even daily tefilla should be said with the awareness that we need rachamei Hashem every moment of our lives, not only when we are faced with obvious existential threats.
    The Chasan Sofer says “tiken” means that we can’t possibly have proper kavana, so the Avos imbued the required kavanos into davening, so we can rely on the power the Avos put into tefilla even if we don’t have proper kavana.

    Reb Eliezer

    Is that Reb Yerucham based on the Ramban that beeis tzara is a mitzva min hatorah to daven?


    Instead of implying that Reb Yerucham is inconsistent with the Ramban, how about noticing that the whole point of the Rambam is like Reb Yerucham, that we need to realize that every moment of every day we need Rachmei Hashem no less than an eis tzarah? Hmmmm?

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