Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tefillah II

It is disrespectful to say Tehillim while exercising, driving or doing other mindless work

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There are those who hold that a woman is only obligated to daven one prayer a day, and it does not have to be shmoneh esrai. She should say something that has the elements of Tefilah - praise (shevach), request (bakashah), and hodaah (thanks) - such as Birchas HaShachar with the Yehi ratzon after it, or Birchas haTorah with V'Ha'arev nah, or something similar. B'dieved, they can fulfill their obligation to daven with Birkas Hamazon according to these shitos.

Others hold that women are obligated to say the Shemoneh Esrei of Shachris and Minchah (not Maariv). She is allowed (but not obligated according to some poskim) to say Pesukei D'Zimarah.

However, Sefardic women should NOT say Boruch She'amar or Yishtabach. The reason for this is that Sefardic women do NOT make Brachos that they are not obligated to make, whereas Ashkenazi women do. Since Boruch Sheamar and yishtabach are brachos, this disagreement would apply.

It is also good for women to say the first posuk of Shema.

If a woman who is accustomed to davening finds that she cannot, then she should at least say one short tefilah in the morning as per the other shitos.

There is a small minority of poskim who hold a woman has to daven Maariv Shmoneh Esrei as well.

Girls should go to Shul even though they don't have to because you get to answer to Kadish and Kedusha, because you will probably hear a Dvar Torah from the Rav, because you will not accidentally forget to say the proper Tefilos on special occasions (such as Rosh Chodesh), and things like that.

But it is not obligatory in the slightest. If your mother needs you to help set up for the Shabbos meal or with the kids, I would advise you to better stay home and get those Mitzvos.

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If you will not have even the amount of Kavanah that is required to be Yotzeh Davening, if you are a girl, you should not daven.

Rather, you should muster the required Kavanah and then do it.

The amount of kavanah it takes to be yotzeh davening shoul be able to be mustered instantly. It doesn’t take long. During "Hashem sefasai tiftach" you focus on the fact that you are in front of Hashem. That's all.

The Halachah is that if you daven and later realize you did NOT have Kavanah, you do not repeat davneing, even though you were not Yotzeh, because we assume that you will just also not have kavanah the next time around as well.

Kavanah - at least the minimum amount that it takes to be Yotzeh - should be mustered before davening, during the proper time.

The Shulchan Aruch says that if someone davened without kavanah, he does not daven over nowadays because we don’t have kavanah anyway. But the first davening was still obligatory, even though we do not have kavanah nowadays.

The main thing is to have Kavanah during Shemona Esrei. When Chazal talk about Kavanah during davening, this is what they mean.

Take an ArtScroll or another English Siddur and learn the meaning of each Brachah.

Then think of ways in your life that the brachos may apply to you. As an example, "Chonen HaDaas" is where you pray to Hashem for knowledge. You might want to have special Kavanah when you say this before your Chumash final.

We sit during Shema because it helps us have Kavanah in concentrating on the meaning of the words.

Banging at your heart during Selach Lanu and Viduyis behavior that shows your sorrow over your sins.

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You can put prayers that pertain to the topic of each prayer in that relevant prayer, but don’t do that because it’s hard to know exactly what is relevant and what’s not.

Better to put it in shema koleinu, or, maybe even better, after shemona esrei, in elokai netzor right before yihiyu l'atzon imrei fi.

There is nowhere to place personal requests on Shabbos. This is because on Shabbos we do not make any personal requests - neither on an individual, private level, nor collectively. That is why Shema Koleinu (and the other weekly Brachos of Shemona Esray) are omitted on Shabbos. On Shabbos and Yom Tov in general we only pray for Hashem's "sake", not our needs. Yom Kippur is an exception, in a way.

Tehillim can only be said on Shabbos or at night for a "choleh yom" - meaning, that there is a danger of something bad happening to the patient right then and there - that night, or that shabbos.

So if r"l someone is in the hospital on Shabbos or at night getting an operation and the danger is NOW, or if they are deathly ill and every moment there is a danger of losing them - then you may say tehillim at night or on shabbos. But if it is just someone who needs a recovery, even if they are deathly ill, but not in danger on that shabbos or that night - like for instance if someone has cancer r"l, but they are not in danger of dying that day - then you would not say tehillim for them on shabbos or night.

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You never have to daven with a different accent, even when davening for the Amud in a Shul where they use that accent.

But when davening for the Amud, you should use their Nusach when you Daven out loud. When praying your own Shemona Esray, though, use your own Nusach.

That is true if the Shul officially Davens sefard. However, there are some Shuls where there is no official Nusach and the Chazan davens whatever he wants. If thats the case, daven your own Nusach even from the Amud.

When davening in their shul but not from the amud, you should daven your own nusach when you are davening to yourself, but where it would be obvious to all that you are praying a difference nusach you should follow theirs, like in Kedusha.

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The following is from Rasisei Layla of Rav Tzadok (#26):

Between two wise men, he who has more wisdom is considered the superior of the two. Not so with regard to Tefilah. There, the opposite is true - whoever is more lacking and has more needs, is able to achieve more with his Tefilah, since his Tefilah comes from a deeper place in his heart.

The depth of heart and mind that produced the marvelous poems like the ones on the site can be channeled into your davening to achieve what many people on much higher levels than you cannot achieve. You know how to tap into the depths of the Neshama and express the deepest yearnings for the highest things. You don’t even have to "tap" much - you feel those depths already!

When you daven, feel those depths, those yearnings - the same feelings that you have when you write these poems, express those feelings to Hashem like you express them to the readers of your poems, and I promise you, your Tefilos will be strengthened a thousandfold, and you will achieve more with them than you can ever imagine!

And please, have me in mind during those Tefilos.

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When you start Shemonah Esrei, before you say the first word, imagine that you are actually standing in Shamayim in front of Hashem on the Kisei HaKavod.

That you have been granted a chance to ask Hashem personally for everything you, your parents, and the whole world needs.

That Hashem asked specifically to hear from you what those needs are.

And now, you are asking Hashem for them. You are in front of the King, Who is in charge of life and death and everything else in this world, you, "bas yisroel", talking one on one to Hashem.

Pause for 30 seconds to do this right before you bend your knees for the first "Boruch". Imagine that during those 30 seconds you're standing right at the door to Hashem's Throne Room, ready to enter. You're taking a deep breath, reviewing what you want to say. You're about to open the door, your hand is on the knob, and you say to yourself, you're about to go into the King and ask Him for everything. Don't blow it.

Then, when you're ready to finally open the door and face the King, bow for the first Boruch.

And keep this is mind throughout your Shemonah Esrei.

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Forget all the military and political stuff in Israel, and think of one thing: Jews are being killed.

That’s all you have to worry about. And that’s something you surely can relate to. Just pray to Hashem to protect the Jewish lives that are in danger. That’s all you have to pray for. How He will do that is up to Him.

You should pray for all the things that you want, including what you listed But it is indeed a problem that you feel those things are more important than life and death.

So when you come to Sim Shalom in Shemona Esray, have in mind to ask for peace in Eretz Yisroel together with Jews all over the world.

Surely you know that throughout history, times for the world, and for the Yidden, have been much, much worse. And surely, when you learned about those times you realized that it was a time for Tefilah more than anything else, then. And if someone would come to you out of that time period, maybe during the churban bayis sheni, who needed chizuk because they were scared and dint know how to react, you would tell them that Hashem runs the world and what she is experiencing now is part of Hashem’s cosmic plan for the world, and that her actions can decide history. And that only Hashem can help and the way to reach Him is through Tefilah.

Right?

OK, so the same thing applies today. You have to view the situation as part of the big picture, and understand that what we are going through is not unique in history. Imagine as if you were looking down from another time period at our times and think how you would perceive things then. Now put yourself back in the picture and realize it’s the Yetzer Horah that’s trying to overwhelm you with fear and confusion.

What is happening now is nothing new. Suffering and tragedy and fear has been our lot for the past 2,000 years of Golus, and even before. In the past, we were always able to overcome it through Teshuva and Tefilah. We spend all our lives in Yeshiva learning about this. Now is the time to apply what we learned. It is our turn to make history. Let's do it the right way.

It was the Satmar Rebbe ZTL who used to get up often on Shabbos Shuva and remind everyone that all the Tzoros that happened during the past year were all decreed on the previous Rosh Hashanah, and if we could got back in time knowing what awful things would happen, and be granted a chance to go back in time and pray for them not to - imagine how we would be praying!

That, he said, is the opportunity we have THIS year to pray for all the things that are destined to happen during the coming year. We should imagine that the Tzoros happened and that we were given a chance to go back in time and undo them. As it says: Teshuva, tefilah etc --- "remove" the bad decree", that is, they undo what already has been decreed.

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You can definitely say Tehilim for someone with a supposedly incurable disease - we will pray that a cure or treatment is found and applied to them.

In addition, just because doctors say there is no cure or treatment does not mean there is none. If we can all see that a health problem is a done deal - such as a missing foot, lets say - then we would consider recovery a miracle, but just because the doctors say someone won’t get better does not mean that it is so. "Many people have been condemned to death by the doctors, and their recovery is soon to come" (Shiltei Hagiborim, Sanhedrin).

Furthermore, we may even pray for a miracle, provided that the miracle is a public one, meaning, that there will be a great Kiddush Hashem in its wake, when people see that someone was miraculously cured.

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