davening/ learning in English

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  • #600691

    mik5
    Participant

    Is this permitted for a person who is becoming a BT? Would you be yotzei with this? Is it prohibited to daven in English when alone, since according to some the angels understand only Lashon HaKodesh? Are there certain things which must be said in Hebrew in order for you to fulfill the mitzvah?

    In general, if a person has a choice b/w davening in Hebrew and maybe not understanding everything, versus davening in English with greater kavana, which should he choose? [When we stood before Hashem at Mount Sinai, we said: “We will do, and we will understand.” Meaning that even if we don’t understand the davening in Hebrew, we should still say it – and we will eventually come to understand it. (?)] What do you think?

    #833297

    You can communicate with hashem in any language, as long as it comes from the heart that’s all that matters.

    Loshon Hakodesh is hashems holly language, NOT Hebrew.

    learning a language and mastering new concepts in life all boils down to, all beginnnings are hard.

    Yasher koach on this milestone in your life, I’m sure youll do great!!! 😉

    #833298

    mik5
    Participant

    I always thought that Lashon Hakodesh was Hebrew (technically, biblical Hebrew – not modern).

    #833300

    Sam2
    Participant

    Lashon Hakodesh is Hebrew, I’m not sure what he meant. Yes, you can daven in English. You can even say Shema in English (in theory), but it has to be a precise translation which is very hard for us to make.

    #833301

    Nechomah
    Participant

    Artscroll would have never published their siddurim and other sefrei kodesh with English translations (and other languages) if one could not learn/daaven in English and other languages.

    #833302

    “Artscroll would have never published their siddurim and other sefrei kodesh with English translations (and other languages) if one could not learn/daaven in English and other languages. “

    They published English translations so that we understand what we daven.

    I’m not saying that one cannot daven in English – I’ve no idea – but the Artscroll is no proof.

    #833303

    Avram in MD
    Participant

    Hi mik5,

    I am also a BT, and used to daven mostly in English. I transitioned gradually to davening in Hebrew by:

    1.) Learning to say the ending sentence of each paragraph/psalm, e.g., where the diamond-type mark in the Artscroll is to the end, in Hebrew. Since that diamond mark is where the chazzan typically begins reciting aloud, learning those sentences first really helped me to figure out where the tzibbur was in davening, and that made me feel a lot more comfortable in shul. I started with the the ending sentence of each bracha in Shemoneh Esrei, then the final sentences of the brachos of kriyas shema, and then did final sentences in pesukei d’zimra (the psalms/verses recited before shema during shacharis). Pretty much all the rest I did in English (unless I happened to know some of the Hebrew from my non-Orthodox Hebrew school upbringing).

    2.) I gradually added the first sentence of each paragraph in Hebrew, slowly so that my davening didn’t become excessively long. Once one Hebrew sentence became quick and automatic, I’d begin working on the next.

    3.) Once everything was “up to speed”, I’d add the second sentence of a paragraph, and the second to last sentence, etc. until eventually I was doing almost everything in Hebrew.

    As I did this, my reading skills dramatically improved, so my rate of progress increased as I continued adding more Hebrew to my davening.

    Regarding understanding what you are saying: I found that I learned a LOT of Hebrew words during the transition from reading in English to Hebrew. When I daven Shemoneh Esrei, for example, I understand what I am saying in Hebrew. The area that is still a challenge for me to understand each word is pesukei d’zimra, but I understand parts and keep the theme of each psalm in mind as I recite it. Sometimes I will also take an English siddur and review the psalm in English, so that my understanding is fresh.

    I hope all of this is helpful to you!

    #833304

    mik5
    Participant

    nechomah – i disagree. i hold that it is certainly permissible to pray in English, but even if it weren’t, Artscoll would still be justified in translating the siddurim so that people could UNDERSTAND what they’re saying (but say it in Hebrew).

    #833305

    BTGuy
    Participant

    Hi mik5. I strongly urge you to invest in a copy of Pathway to Prayer by Rabbi Meir Birnbaum. All such concerns are covered thoroughly. Hatzlacha!!

    #833306

    yungerman1
    Participant

    One can daven in Lashon HaKodesh even if he does not understand what he is saying. If one chooses to daven in another language, he must understand what he is saying.

    Technically, Lashon HaKodesh is NOT modern day Hebrew. While many words are identical, many have been changed. The old joke about a seminary girl (of course!) that gets on a bus and asks the driver ??? ???? ? He responds with ??? ????? !!

    #833307

    Nechomah
    Participant

    There used to be a siddur (don’t know if it still exists now) that had the English/Hebrew printed on the same page across from each other line by line. If I were going to have to read it in Hebrew but wanted to know what I was saying, then this would be the type of print style that would help me the most for this purpose. Who would want to read a whole page on one side and then come to the other side and try to read it now in Hebrew. I don’t know if I would remember more than a half a line by that point. In all of the BT programs that I have participated in, including Aish HaTorah and its women’s seminary, there was never any problem daavening in English. We learned the Hebrew also, but were told to understand what we were saying first. What about a person who can’t even READ Hebrew, what’s he supposed to do?

    #833308

    I don’t think the halacha of davening in an alternate language would depend on what the angels can understand. We aren’t davening to them after all. Also, as far as I know it is only Aramaic that angels can’t understand, not all languages besides L”K.

    If the choice is between davnening in L”K and not understand vs. davening in English and understanding- it seems that people generally do the former. For instance, the kavanah that we have for Shemoneh Esrei is not even a scratch of what the Anshei Kneses Hagedolah had in mind, yet even though we don’t understand the depths of what we are saying, we still don’t switch to English.

    #833309

    Sam2
    Participant

    How can you have Kavanah if you don’t even understand what the words mean? People who understand Hebrew at least know the basic meaning of the words. If you actually don’t know what the words mean then of course it’s better to Daven in English.

    #833310

    mik5
    Participant

    the angels carry our prayers to Hashem… sam2: maybe you read the translation beforehand, so you have a basic understanding of the tefillos.

    #833311

    oomis
    Participant

    Yes. Do you think Hashem cannot understand all languages? Just daven and He will listen.

    #833312

    Sam2
    Participant

    By the way, the last Perek (second to last?) in Sotah should answer all of these questions.

    #833313

    Abelleh
    Participant

    yungerman1: Modern Hebrew is actually lashon HaKodesh according to Rav Shachter (I heard him say it myself). His svara was that all languages evolve. Biblical Hebrew is not the same as the Hebrew used in the Mishna, which in turn is not the same Hebrew used by Rambam, Rashi, etc. Nonetheless, we consider all of these lashon HaKodesh. So too Modern Hebrew, which is simply another point in Hebrew’s history, is Lashon HaKodesh.

    #833314

    Sam2
    Participant

    What’s the difference between Modern Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew? A few words were dropped and new words (mostly based off Tanach) were added in for modern inventions. They’re basically the same language, with a few tiny differences in details.

    #833315

    mik5
    Participant

    Hashem understands the languages of the 70 nations and Hebrew. What about non-languages like Yiddish or African dialects?

    #833316

    Sam2
    Participant

    KBHK understands everything.

    #833317

    BTGuy
    Participant

    The answer to many of the questions raised is obvious, of course. One has to learn Hebrew, even if they are starting with the Alef Beis. In fact, I think someone starting from scratch deserves tremendous hakaros hatov.

    I remember struggling to daven from a machzor on the critical holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. My davening was like molasses on a cold, winter day. I could not keep up and in my mind did not even accomplish anything by trying to scan the English and read the Hebrew and look up out of the siddur to what page the person next to me was holding….I was a davening mess.

    Baruch Hashem! I finally feel competent to do a legitimate davening from the siddur. It came from gradual struggle. And you can bet that I am not the only one who has done this.

    Hatzlacha!!

    #833318

    mik5
    Participant

    thanks everybody

    #833319

    Sam2
    Participant

    I meant HKBK, by the way. That’s probably a bad typo.

    #833320

    B Simcha
    Participant

    Just wanted to add that if you want greater understanding of the prayers, especially the Amida there is a new web site called Becomingdivine.com and the Rabbi Yaakov Zalman Labinsky does an indepth series called “Growing Through The Amida”. He starts off by giving a general overview of the Amida and then takes each bracha and does a class on the kavana of the bracha and then a step by step through the words to get the most out of it. I am a BT and went through all the classes and it so improved my level of kavana and understanding that my davening is not even in the same ballpark as it was before. He also just started a pirkei avos series that is a blow away in terms of how each mishna can change my life by helping me grow through the challenges in my life as opposed to going through them. Hatzlacha Raba on your journey.

    #833321

    mik5
    Participant

    When davening in English, am i required to say ‘Adon–” or can I just say “Hashem” or “Lord”?

    #833322

    Toi
    Participant

    sam2- the language adapted from loshon kodesh by a min and kofer should be called loshon kodesh?!?! the words are wacky, many based on mistranslations and misunderstandings in psukim, and he was michadesh words that according to many rishonim didnt exist before solely because it was loshon kodesh. a sefer torah written by a kofer must be burned. and dont tell me all the left wing atheists are speaking lshon kodesh as they denounce any relation to judaism, Hashem, and His torah. feh.

    #833323

    littleapple
    Member

    mik5 : That should be asked to your Rav as there are different positions on it, as is seen from Artscroll printing Hashem whereas the Metsudah siddur printed A-do..

    #833324

    BaalSechel
    Participant

    “Hashem” is not a substitute for His name, as it merely translates as “the name”. “G-d” is a better word. Hatzlacha davening! You will find a new world open to you!

    #833325

    Sam2
    Participant

    “God” is a much better word. Also, it’s probably best not to Daven in two languages in one sentence, so saying everything in English and only Hashem’s name in Hebrew is probably not the best.

    #833326

    mik5
    Participant

    I say “Hashem our G-d King of the Universe, etc.” (sometimes I say L-rd instead of Hashem”) should i instead say “Ado—“?

    as for davening in two languages, sometimes when I know a certain phrase in Hebrew, I say it instead of English (for instance, I know “bonay yerushalayim”)

    #833327

    Sam2
    Participant

    You should ask a Rabbi, but I would assume that it’s not proper to say a Brachah half in one language and half in another.

    #833328

    brotherofurs
    Participant

    someone asked a Rabbi once ‘is it better to pray in english and understand it, then to pray in lashon hakodesh and not understand it?’

    he said to pray in lashon hakodesh is better! .. i heard this a few times, cuz the tefillot and the words that the avot wrote for us have a lot of power and are not just regular words. of course your tefillah is 10x better if you understand it too, but one should always pray in lashon hakodesh (unless they can’t physically read hebrew i guess)

    #833329

    Nechomah
    Participant

    If you say “H-Shem” just like that, then you haven’t said any kind of a brocha because we use the term “H-Shem”, which literally means “The Name” to take the place of Adon-ai in order to not say it during common conversation. It’s not like it’s an English translation. However, during a brocha, if you say it, then you haven’t said the brocha. I wouild ask a Rov how to proceed with switching from English to Hebrew on that issue, but just for a focus, what don’t you try going 1 brocha at a time to learn what it means in loshon hakodesh and switch over to it, one every few days until you’re staying all of them in loshon hakodesh.

    #833330

    Sam2
    Participant

    By the way, Rav Moshe Paskens that since everyone means “God” when they say “Hashem” that if you say “Hashem” in the context of a Bracha it’s like you said Shem Shamayim. This is against a very large number of the earlier Poskim though (he acknowledges that; he’s disagreeing with an Eitzah to say “Hashem” instead of AD– in a case of Safek Brachos).

    I find it very hard to believe that someone said to say it in Hebrew without understanding rather than English and understand it. We Pasken that a little bit with Kavanah is better than a lot without.

    #833331

    brotherofurs
    Participant

    sam2 we asked him that question too, someone asked “Is it better to pray the whole shacharit but not as much kavanah or to pray ex only birchot hashachar but have a lot of kavanah. and the Rabbi said to pray the whole thing

    #833333

    twisted
    Participant

    OP: Hashkofo Emergency: Our tefila is a direct connection to HKBH, no angels needed. This is Ani Maamin #5, a critical article of faith. There are piyyutim that seem to represent otherwise, and those who take the ikkarei hadas seriously omit or rephrase those passages. Hatslocho on your path upwards.

    #833334

    Sam2
    Participant

    Brotherofurs: I don’t know what to tell you. That’s against the first Siman in Shulchan Aruch (not his answer, but your interpretation of it). You have to say enough to be Yotzei, which you’re not if you only say Birchos Hashachar. But assuming that you say enough to be Yotzei, then a little with a lot of Kavanah is better than a lot with less Kavanah.

    #833335

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    twisted: Thank you. It is very important to remember that.

    #833336

    Sam2
    Participant

    Twisted: Your statement that it is impossible to take the Ikkarie Hadat seriously and still say those paragraphs is problematic and offensive. It is possible to do both. You just have to understand exactly what you are saying and what it means.

    #833337

    twisted
    Participant

    Sam2, its called living by the letter of the law, or zehirus, and not putting stumbling blocks in front of the ignorant. Some specific cases are a passage in the Hinneni, and the selicho shlosh esrai middos. This is not my own opinion.

    #833338

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Somehow, I suspect that HKBH is perfectly capable of hearing and understanding my prayers, regardless of the language spoken and whether or not any malachim carry them to Him.

    The Wolf

    #833339

    Sam2
    Participant

    Twisted: And the Mechabrim of those places didn’t have proper Ikkarei Hadas? I agree that it’s not your own opinion and that there are many who skip certain things because there are issues. I’m not disagreeing with that. I am pointing out that you overstepped your bounds when you implied that anyone who takes Ikkarei Hadas seriously cannot say such things.

    #833340

    brotherofurs
    Participant

    sam 2- hmmm oh so maybe it’s only if you say enough to be yotzei, idk thnx 🙂

    #833341

    mik5
    Participant

    My rav said to say L-rd or Ado–, not H—.

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