Using "self-composed" prayers for people facing serious tzuros

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    I have a question about using self-composed Tefillos on behalf of people facing serious Tzuros. Harav Chaim Stein Shlita, the Telzer Rosh Yeshiva, at the Hesped of his son Z”L, asked the Olam to Daven on behalf of “der Techta” (our sisters) who are having trouble finding a Shiduch and I also believe he asked for public Tefillos on behalf of childless couples. I was thinking that it is of course most ideal if we say Tehillim with tears and intense Kavanah on behalf of those in need, but what happens if someone simple like myself needs a prayer formulated specifically for this one type of Tzuro (perhaps in English, if not well-versed in Hebrew) to guide their thoughts and Kavanah during the Tefilla? In other words, is there a virtue for composing special prayers on behalf of “der Techta” and childless couples? I wrote a couple of prayer drafts, but when I approached the Frum (B’nei Torah) written media to try to publicize this idea of specially formulated prayers, I was told “no way – no one can compose new prayers today”! A few Rabbonim who know me well, encouraged me to continue to write these Tefillos and were very moved by the prayer drafts. One Rov said in the name of the Chazon Ish ZT”L that it is OK to pray from a self-composed prayer for his/her personal needs. What do people think about the idea of trying to reach out to the public to gain a groundswell of people davening for our sisters and childless couples, possibly using specially formulated prayers?

    Again, Dovid HaMelech’s Tehillim is a million times more potent than anything someone can compose today (especially an ignoramous as myself), but if someone needs some additional mechanism to engage and raise their level of emotional involvment and perhaps be moved to tears, is this so bad?


    My first reaction was “where did you get the ridiculous idea that a Jew can’t pray to his or her God?!” It borders on avoda zara. But that really isn’t what you’re saying. Yes, you are supposed to pray on your own in your own words with heartfelt tears, but personal prayer is just that — personal. Today we don’t compose new prayers for the tzibbur or even just for other idividuals, what we say to Hashem stays between us and Hashem.


    I second what ItcheSrulik said.

    As soon as you give it to someone else, it isn’t their personal prayer. You fail to mention, did any of these Rabbonim who know well suggest you publicize it? Did they even agree that you should attempt to publicize it? Ask any of Rav Stein Shelitas talmidim if he felt you should publicize your compositions, as heart-warming as they may be.


    I did get the OK from 2 Rabbonim to publicize in published Jewish media. I tried to get HaRav Stein Shlita’s approval (through a student) before he became ill, but I am not aware if he agreed or refused.

    As far as not being allowed to compose today, where does it say that after the Anshei K’neses HaGdolah, the prayer book was sealed? Many Piyutim and Kinos were written over the past few hundred years. Of course, I don’t come to the shoelaces of the illustrious Talmedai Chachomin who were Mesader those Tefillos – but to say that the prayer book is now a sealed book, does not seem to be based on a Halachic source (as per the Chazon Ish, above).

    Lastly, the Tzuros of all our sister and brothers are our OWN, as we are a single unit; so by same logic, the Tefillos that you compose because of your pain for Acheinu Beis Yisroel, are also my personal Tefillos.

    Imagine if before going to sleep each peson spent 3 minutes davening for all women who don’t have a Shidduch or who are married but childless, perhaps using words of his/her own chosing, is it not possible that as a result, a few more families would have a Simcha sooner? All I want to do is facilitate this.


    It doesn’t actually say that we don’t compose new prayers after the anshe knesses hagedola, but it’s a matter of logic. Prayer is a personal conversation with God. Rav Soloveichik called it a “du siach” from the yiddish familiar word for you. The anshe knesses hagedola included prophets. That was the only reason they were able to write a shmoneh esrei. A prophet knows how to talk to God, we don’t. You mention piyutim. THey are another story. The paytanim did not write something and then walk into shul, give a klop and say “we’re saying this now.” They wrote for themselves and for kirvas elokim. Then people slowly started using their compositions in davening — sometimes after they died. Even then, there were thousands of piyutim written by great people — including paytanim like Yehuda HaLevi and Elazar HaKalir — that never made it into the machzor. How many of you have ever heard “Kah Shimcha” by Yehudah Halevi?



    I now remember reading that Yated article about Harav Stein by his sons levaya. He asked his son, not the oilam (though I’m sure he wouldn’t object and would be happy about it), to “beht far di techter”.

    The Bach was unable to publish his great work for ten years after he finished it. He had a story where he did something which he hadn’t in a long time, fell asleep, and it was revealed to him that he wasn’t meriting Assistance in publishing due to neglecting this for all this time. He was told that now, he will be successful. And so it was.

    Instead of being upset at the Frum media, maybe we should look inward (if it is indeed Hashem’s desire that these Tefilos be publicized).


    Truth be told: “I now remember reading that Yated article about Harav Stein Shlita by his sons levaya. He asked his son, not the oilam (though I’m sure he wouldn’t object and would be happy about it), to “beht far di techter”.

    What you say is true – this was at the Levaya itself in front of Harav Stein son’s Aron. I am referring to the Hesped approoximately 2 weeks later in Lakewood where , if my memory, serves me correctly, Harav Stein Shlita spoke to the Oilam asking them to be Mispallel for the “techter” and also for childless couples. If someone could check with the Yated to find out if this is true, I would be very grateful.


    Silent One: I also remember the Yated article. There was a second article which appeared two weeks later in Yated (written by Avrohom Birnbaum) in which Rav Stein Shlit”a addressed the general tzibbur and requested everyone to daven for all Yiddishe Techter that they should find their zivug.


    Silent One: I think what you’re doing is very good, and there’s nothing wrong with it. That said, you’ll have some trouble convincing people (for one thing, I’m afraid many people don’t pray much outside of the required prayers!).

    Reb Noson of Breslov, the main talmid of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, wrote Likutei Tefilot, a book of prayers he composed to put Rebbe Nachman’s teachings into the form of prayers (most of which has been translated). I must say it it a powerful work, and I feel very aroused spiritually by davening from it. He received much opposition to the work in his time, but it makes sense that people compose new prayers over time.

    It is not the case that (as one commenter suggested) there is the daily prayer service instituted 2000 years ago, and then there is personal prayer in one’s own words, and nothing else. Davening with Likutei Tefilot, for example, enriches and supplements my own hitbodedut. Also, women in Eastern Europe a couple hundred years ago commonly recited special prayers in Yiddish for all kinds of things, from good children to more kabbalistic kinds of things.

    If you come up with your own prayers and you like them and you get positive feedback from rabbis, great — then publish them on your webpage and try to convince people to use your prayers. Or, alternatively, you could ask people who don’t feel comfortable with your prayers to at least spend a couple minutes of spontaneous personal prayer. I believe you are right that if more people prayed for shidduchim or children, then it would happen!

    The Chazon Ish spoke very positively about the importance of personal prayers outside of the required ones, as did many others such as the Chafetz Chaim, so I’m not surprised the Chazon Ish might have explicitly approved drafting new prayers. He himself drafted some new prayers, I believe, so why not other people too?


    Rav Schachter says that you need Ruach Hakodesh to compose a Tefilla that is meant for the Tzibbur to say.


    yytz: there are two kinds of prayer, ritual and personal. Ritual prayer was instituted by the anshei knesses hagedola — shmona esrei brachos al haseder. Personal prayer is everything else, whether you wrote them yourself or not. I don’t daven from likutei tefillos, but I do use Yehuda Haleivi’s poems among others. But those are just my way of enhancing my personal prayer as likutei tefillos does for you. We don’t write prayers for other people and say “you should daven like this.”

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