Halacha for Thursday 11 Iyar 5779 May 16 2019

Praying for Spiritual Matters- Rabbeinu Moshe Alshich zt”l

We have quoted in the past Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l’s words regarding one of the “Harachaman” texts customarily recited in Birkat Hamazon, “May the Merciful One sustain us in permissible ways as opposed to forbidden ones,” that although our Sages teach us that “everything is in Heaven’s hands besides for fear of Heaven,” nevertheless, one may indeed pray about issues related to fear of G-d, i.e. that one merit growing in Torah learning and fear of Heaven, for Hashem is the One who helps man overcome his evil inclination and prayer can sometimes help one to overcome his evil inclination more than usual.

Based on this, if one, G-d forbid, has a child, relative, or friend who has strayed from the proper path of Torah observance, one may pray for him and beseech Hashem that He infuse this individual with a spirit of purity and that he merit repenting before Hashem.

Based on what we have discussed in the previous Halacha that one may insert one’s own personal requests into the Amida prayer, if one wishes to pray for someone to repent, one should insert this prayer into the blessing of “Hashivenu Avinu Le’Toratecha” (the fifth blessing of the Amida prayer), for this is the blessing which discusses the topic of repentance.

One should insert the text of one’s prayer before concluding the blessing, meaning that before he recites “Baruch Ata Hashem Ha’Rotzeh Bitshuva, ” one should add, “May it be Your will, Hashem our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that You dig a tunnel under Your Holy Throne to accept the repentance of all of the sinners of Israel, and similarly may You cause so-and-so (insert name) son/daughter of so-and-so (insert mother’s name) to repent fully, for Your right hand is outstretched to accept those who are repentant.”

This point is further elucidated in the Gemara in Masechet Berachot (10a) where Beruria, wife of Rabbi Meir, told her husband that he should not be praying for the wicked to die; rather, he should pray for them to repent, as the verse states, “May sins perish from the earth,” and not “May sinners perish.” We see from here that one should pray for wicked people to repent. This is what we pray for during the Days of Awe (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) by saying, “And everyone shall unite into one group to perform Your will with a complete heart.”

Our leader, the great and holy Gaon, Rabbeinu Moshe Alshich, who was a disciple of the saintly Ari z”l, had a son who strayed from the Torah’s path. Rav Moshe was truly pained by this and asked the Ari z”l to pray that his son repent and return to the proper path. The Ari z”l instructed him to pray for his son in the blessing of “Hashivenu,” and even proceeded to give him a special Kabbalistic Kavanah (deep concentration on a Holy name) for this matter.

Rabbeinu Chaim Vital writes that upon following the advice of the Ari z”l for some time, Rabbeinu Moshe Alshich saw results and his son returned to the Jewish religion after converting out of it. (This incident is quoted in Yalkut Yosef, Tefillah, Volume 2, page 64.) It is especially auspicious when a mother or grandmother prays from the depths of her soul for her children and grandchildren to grow up on the path of the Torah, for a woman’s prayer is very precious to Hashem when it comes from the bottom of the heart accompanied by the proper emotions.

Rabbeinu Sa’adia Gaon zt”l writes that any prayer which is not for a personal materialistic purpose and is merely for the honor of Hashem, for instance, when one prays for Jews to repent and the like, is especially accepted by Hashem. Even if the one praying is not worthy of having his prayers answered, Hashem still accepts this prayer since he has prayed for the honor of Hashem, the One who accepts prayers and desires repentance.

Indeed, Hagaon Rabbeinu Ezra Attieh zt”l explained this idea based on the Midrash that when the Jewish nation sang the Song of the Sea, it was especially beloved by Hashem, for they were not only singing and praising Hashem regarding their own salvation. Rather, they were singing about the redemption of the Shechina and the Heavenly hosts along with the Jewish nation from Egypt.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Praying Arvit on a Voluntary Basis

We have mentioned in the previous Halacha that if one was in the midst of reciting the Amida prayer and then suddenly remembers that he has already prayed this prayer, one must stop praying immediately, for all of one’s blessings are considered blessings in vain. One may not intend for the rem......

Read Halacha

One Who Begins the Amida Prayer and Then Remembers That He Has Already Prayed

Question: What is the appropriate procedure for one has begun to recite the Amida prayer and then suddenly remembers that he has already prayed that specific prayer? Answer: We have already explained that one may pray a voluntary prayer which one is not obligated to as a voluntary prayer and is t......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot

Regarding the giving of the Torah, the Torah states (Shemot 19): “And they travelled from Refidim and they arrived at the Sinai Desert and they camped in the desert; and Israel camped there opposite the mountain.” Rabbeinu Chaim ben Atar, the saintly “Or Ha’Chaim,” ......

Read Halacha

Laws of the Compensatory Prayer-Continued

In the previous Halachot we have explained that if one forgets to pray a certain prayer, the individual must compensate for the missed prayer by reciting the Amida of the next prayer twice, once for the current obligatory prayer and the second as a compensatory prayer for the prayer one missed. T......

Read Halacha


Some Laws Regarding the Compensatory Prayer and the Laws of Women Regarding the Compensatory Prayer

In the Halachot sent out before Shavuot, we have discussed the general laws of the compensatory prayer which is that if one forgets to pray a certain prayer, one must compensate for this prayer immediately at the end of the following prayer one prays. For instance, if one has forgotten to pray Shach......

Read Halacha

Blessings of Enjoyment and Keri’at Shema on the Night of Shavuot

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the order of learning for the night of Shavuot during which it is customary to remain awake all night and study Torah. Reading the Order of the “Keri’eh Mo’ed” Let us first discuss that which we have mentioned that it is proper t......

Read Halacha

The Customary Order of the Night of Shavuot

The Source for the Order of the Night of Shavuot The widespread custom among the entire Jewish nation is to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot and immerse one’s self in Torah study until dawn. Indeed, the holy Zohar states: “The earlier righteous individuals would not sleep on this ......

Read Halacha

Sweet Pastries and Dairy Chocolate

In the previous Halachot, we have explained that our Sages prohibited baking bread with milk (or animal fat) mixed in the dough lest others come and eat this bread with meat (or dairy). We have mentioned that if the bread or baked good is baked in a distinct shape which everyone recognizes to be ......

Read Halacha