Halacha for Tuesday 29 Iyar 5781 May 11 2021

Praying Repeatedly-A Spark of Ruach Ha’Kodesh

Question: Is it correct for one to plead and beseech Hashem for the same thing every single day or is it more proper to pray for a certain matter only several times and if one sees that one has not been answered, one should cease praying for that specific matter?

Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 32b) states: “Rabbi Chanin said in the name of Rabbi Chanina: One who prays lengthily shall merit that this prayer shall not return unanswered. How do we know this? This is derived from Moshe who said, ‘And I prayed to Hashem forty days and forty nights’ and afterwards, the verse states, ‘And Hashem heard me that time as well.’” We see from here that one who prays lengthily (or repeatedly) shall have one’s prayer answered.

The Gemara then questions this, for Rabbi Chiya bar Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan that anyone who prays lengthily and analyzes it shall eventually be disappointed. It seems from this that one should preferably not pray lengthily or repeatedly for one’s requests, for if one does so, one will eventually be disappointed, as the verse in Mishlei (13:12) states, “Hope deferred shall make the heart sick.” The Gemara answers that one refers to praying lengthily and analyzing the prayer while the other refers to praying lengthily without analyzing the prayer.

This means that the teaching of Rabbi Chanina that one should pray lengthily and if one does so, it shall be answered, refers to one who does not “analyze” the prayer, meaning that one does not think all the time that because one prays for so long, the prayer is worthy of being answered. On the other hand, Rabbi Chiya bar Abba’s teaching that one who prays lengthily shall eventually be disappointed refers to one who “analyzes” it by thinking that one’s request will be fulfilled because one prays so lengthily. Because one believes that one’s request will be fulfilled as a result of one’s intense prayer, one’s prayer will not be answered and one will only be disappointed as a result as one hopes for his desires to be fulfilled and in reality, they are not.

Indeed, the Gemara (Berachot 51a) states: “One who prays lengthily shall eventually be disappointed. Furthermore, Rabbi Yitzchak says that one who prays lengthily shall cause one’s sins to be reminded before Hashem.” The Gemara explains that all of these things apply when one “analyzes” one’s prayers. Rashi explains: “One tells himself that one’s request will be granted because one has prayed with concentration.”

Based on this, one should indeed pray repeatedly. One should pray articulately and in the correct places and do so again and again. Even if one has not been answered after one-thousand prayers, it is possible that one more prayer will make the difference and one will be answered. However, one should not grow arrogant and think to one’s self that in the merit of one’s diligent prayer, one’s prayers will be answered. Rather, one should merely wait and hope for Hashem’s salvation humbly. Indeed, the Meiri writes that one should not praise one’s self for praying so intensely and think that he is worthy of the prayer being answered. One should merely act humbly hope for Hashem’s Heavenly mercy and that He act with the attribute of kindness and answer one’s prayer.

Let us now recount a personal incident that happened to us when one of our family members was involved in a complex medical situation. Maran zt”l instructed us to pray for this individual in the “Refaenu” blessing of the Amida. For whatever reason, we ended up praying for this individual in the “Shema Kolenu” blessing as opposed to in the “Refaenu” blessing. Sometime after when the individual had not yet recovered, Maran zt”l inquired, “Why are you not praying for the person in ‘Refaenu’?” Because we were so frightened, we replied, “We are!” Maran exclaimed, “Not true! You did not pray in the ‘Refaenu’ blessing! You prayed in ‘Shema Kolenu’! If you would have prayed in ‘Refaenu’, the individual would already have recovered!”

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Eight Levels of Tzedakah

The Rambam (Chapter 10 of Hilchot Matenot Aniyim) writes that there are eight levels included in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah with each one being greater than the other. The highest level of Tzedakah is by helping to support a Jew who lacks his basic needs by providing him with money by means of a gif......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah and Donating a Tenth of One’s Earnings

By popular demand, we shall now discuss the topics of Tzedakah and donating a tenth of one’s earnings more broadly based on the words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch and the Poskim and based on what is written in the works of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l on this topic. Question: ......

Read Halacha

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha

How Much Tzedakah One Must Donate

The Rambam, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that the amount one should donate for Tzedakah is, if one can afford it, based on the necessities of the needy people. This means that if one is extremely wealthy and can provide for the needs of poor people in one’s city, one should ind......

Read Halacha


The Privilege to Donate Tzedakah

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed how the prophet Yirmeya requested from Hashem that when the wicked wish to donate Tzedakah, he should present them with unworthy people. This means that the Tzedakah funds should go to unworthy causes, such as cheaters and con-artists. As such, the wicked w......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

The Tur (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 247) writes: “There is a positive Torah commandment for one to donate some of one’s money to charity, based on one’s individual capabilities. In addition to the fact that whoever donates charity fulfills a positive Torah commandment, one who abst......

Read Halacha

Unworthy Individuals

In the previous Halachot, we have explained the primary aspects of the Mitzvah of Tzedakah. If one transgresses any prohibition in the Torah and does not repent, for instance, if one is aware of the prohibition of shaving one’s beard with a razor and he nevertheless does so or one who dese......

Read Halacha

Who is Obligated in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah?

Every member of the Jewish nation must donate Tzedakah. Even a pauper who receives Tzedakah, has no way of earning a livelihood, and only lives off of what others provide him with must give Tzedakah from what others give him. When the Sages of Israel had control over the Jewish nation, the Jewish co......

Read Halacha