Halacha for Sunday 2 Iyar 5780 April 26 2020

Wording One’s Prayer Before Hashem

Approximately one year ago, we had discussed the laws of prayer and mentioned that one may insert personal prayers into the middle of the blessings of the Amida prayer, especially within the “Shema Kolenu” blessing and after reciting the second “Yihyu Le’Ratzon” at the conclusion of the Amida. We have also mentioned that when one prays before Hashem, especially within the Amida prayer, that one not speak needlessly and certainly not inappropriate things. One should be cautious to prepare one’s self properly for prayer and be succinct and articulate as one open one’s mouth in prayer before Hashem.

Indeed, the holy Zohar teaches that one must express the requests in one’s prayers in a suitable fashion. Rabbeinu Moshe Cordovero zt”l quotes the words of the Zohar.

The Sefer Yalkut Yosef (Chapter 119) offers a source for this idea based on the verse, “And the Canaanite king of Arad who dwelled in the south heard that Israel had arrived etc. and he waged war against Israel and he took captives from among them.” Rashi explains that the “Canaanite” refers to Amalek and the reason why the Torah refers to them as Canaanites is because Amalek changed to speaking in the Canaanite language as the Jewish nation traveled near them so that the Jews would think that they were actually Canaanites and would pray to Hashem to help them defeat the Canaanites when in fact they were actually Amalekites. Since the Jewish nation did not pray for the correct matter, their prayer was not effective.

Based on the above, if one prays for the wrong thing, even if one’s intention was clear, one’s prayer will not be as effective as one who enunciated the prayer correctly and articulately.

Indeed, the Gemara (Baba Metzia 106a) states that if one leases his fields to another in order to plant wheat in them and the renter then goes and plants barley, after which the fields are ruined, the lessor may tell the renter that “I had instructed you to plant wheat. Since you decided to plant barley, you are now liable for the damage to the field. Were you to plant wheat as I had instructed, Hashem may have accepted my prayers as I had been praying for the successful growth of the wheat crop. I had never prayed for the success of the barley crop.” We see that one must take care to pray for the correct matter.

Similarly, there was once a man whose son had fallen ill as a result of a dreaded disease. The father went and requested from several sages that they pray for his son to be healed from this disease. Indeed, the son was healed from this disease but had then perished in a car accident soon thereafter. One should therefore pray for general goodness from Hashem and this father should have asked that Hashem grant this child many years of good health.

Certainly, one must not go on and on needlessly during one’s prayer, such as one who speaks freely during the Amida prayer and repeats his requests several times. Rather, one should pray in a clear and brief manner and Hashem will certainly accept these prayers willingly.

If one sees that as a result of elongating one’s prayer, one will miss answering Kaddish and Kedusha, it is appropriate for one to shorten one’s prayer in order not to miss out on answering these portions of the prayer. Indeed, on Chanukah and Purim, there are those that rule that one should omit reciting “Al Ha’Nissim” in order not to miss answering Kedusha. Although the Halacha does not follow this view, nevertheless, this only applies to such prayers established by our Sages. However, regarding one’s own personal requests and prayers, it is preferable that one omit them in favor of answering Kaddish and Kedusha properly. Later, after the second recitation of “Yihyu Le’Ratzon,” one may continue one’s personal prayer at will.

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha

The Blessings on Thunder and Lightning

One who sees lightning recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Oseh Ma’aseh Bereshit.” One who hears thunder recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam She’Kocho Ugvurato Maleh Olam.” Until When Can On......

Read Halacha

“And Your Camp Shall Be Holy”

Question: May I pray when my child is walking around the house in a dirty diaper? Answer: We derive from the verse in the Torah, “And your camp shall be holy”, that one may not recite words of Torah, pray, or perform any acts of holiness (for instance donning Tefillin) in the restroom......

Read Halacha

Women and the Shabbat Meals-The Custom of Maran zt”l

Question: Are women obligated to eat all three Shabbat meals as are men? Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have explained the primary laws regarding the Shabbat meals, including the obligation to eat three meals on Shabbat: One on Shabbat night, one on Shabbat morning, and one on Shabbat after......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Mentioning “Mashiv Ha’Ruach”

We Begin Reciting “Mashiv Ha’Ruach” “Mashiv Ha’Ruach U’Morid Ha’Geshem” is a praise we recite to Hashem during the winter months within the “Mechayeh Ha’Metim” blessing of the Amidah as is printed in all Siddurim. We begin recitin......

Read Halacha

Using Frozen Bread for “Double Bread”

We have already discussed that there is a Mitzvah to recite the Hamotzi blessing during the Shabbat meals on “double bread,” i.e. two loaves of bread. It is fairly common that one does not have two loaves of bread for this Mitzvah and would like to join a frozen loaf of bread from the fr......

Read Halacha

“Double Bread”

In the previous Halacha, we have explained the laws of Seuda Shelishit and would also like to discuss the laws of women regarding Seuda Shelishit. However, since this issue is connected to the laws of women and “double bread” on Shabbat, let us first discuss the basic laws of “doub......

Read Halacha

Speaking Between Washing One’s Hands and the “Hamotzi” Blessing

Question: Is one permitted to speak between washing one’s hands and reciting the Hamotzi blessing? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (42a) states: “Immediately following hand-washing, one must recite the blessing.” The Rishonim disagree as to the explanation of this Gemara......

Read Halacha