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

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5779, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

Adding Water to a Pot of Food on Shabbat

Question: If one sees the Chulent pot drying out on Shabbat, may one add some boiling water to the pot? Answer: Many households customarily leave a pot of Chulent cooking on the electric hotplate (or crockpot) from Friday afternoon until Shabbat morning. Many times, people mistakenly do not put e......

Read Halacha

Warming up Foods on Shabbat- Maran zt”l’s Suggestion

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed that just as it is forbidden to cook on top of an open flame on Shabbat, it is likewise forbidden to cook on top of an electric hotplate. The only distinction between an open flame and an electric hotplate IS regarding a food which was already cooked before......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha


Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

Those Who are Obligated and Exempt from the Fast of Tisha Be’av and their Status When Tisha Be’av Falls Out on Motza’ei Shabbat

Someone Ill with a Non-Life-Threatening Illness, An Elderly Person, and a Woman who has Recently Given Birth One who is ill (meaning when one is actually bedridden and the like, even if the illness is not life-threatening) is exempt from fasting on Tisha Be’av. When in doubt about one’s......

Read Halacha

Insulation on Shabbat

Question: Is it permissible to cover a pot of food on an electric hotplate with a towel on Shabbat? Answer: Long ago, it was customary to cover a pot of food with (or immerse it in) dirt or sand in order to retain the food’s heat. Heat Increasers vs. Heat Retainers Some would immerse th......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Beginning of the Fast when Tisha Be’av Falls Coincides With Motza’ei Shabbat

The Baraita in Masechet Ta’anit (30a) states that our Sages prohibited five things on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s self with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages said (Ta’anit 30b): “One......

Read Halacha