Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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22 Adar 5766 - March 22, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Meaningful Prayer

by Dovid Leitner

Part 10

Va'ani sefillosi lecho Hashem Eis Rotzon . . .

The fifth and final posuk that we say as an introduction to our morning tefillos is the posuk from Tehillim (69:14) that begins with a letter vov and ends with a chof that together have a numerical value of twenty-six, the same as that of the Name of Hashem. This posuk serves to remind us that we are about to enter His Palace where the Shechinoh is always present, and we must behave accordingly.

The twelve words of this posuk are: Va'ani sefillosi lecho Hashem Eis Rotzon, Elokim berov chasdecho, aneini be- emes yish'echo — As for me, may my prayer to You Hashem, be at an opportune time; in Your abundant kindness, answer me with the truth of Your salvation.

This same posuk is said on Shabbos afternoon, during Minchah just before the sefer Torah is taken out of the Oron Hakodesh. The Tur (Or HaChaim 292) explains that this posuk was incorporated into the Shabbos Minchah, as it highlights the different behavior of the Jewish people as compared to the heathen nations.

Dovid Hamelech (Tehillim 69:13-14) describes how, during their holidays, they make merry and become drunk, spending their free time in the pursuit of physical enjoyments.

In contrast, the Jewish people who are commanded to enjoy their Shabbos meal by partaking of wine and other delicacies, will nevertheless find time to come to daven and hear leining. This contrast is sufficient to create an eis rotzone — a favorable time that assures that our tefillos will be answered , as expressed in the closing phrase of aneini be-emes yish'echo. Rashi (Sefer Pardess 4) states that an extra eis rotzon is created when people have to interrupt their Shabbos lunch, in order to catch the scheduled time for Minchah, as this reinforces the contrast between the Jewish People and the heathens.

The siddur Avodas Yisroel writes that some communities had the custom to say this posuk three times, whilst the Tur writes that Sephardic communities repeated it twice during Shabbos Mincha. In some German communities it is first recited aloud by the Chazan, and then repeated by the entire community, while most communities simply recite it once, all together.

The reason why our davening should be performed during a period of eis rotzone is best understood with a practical example. A worker who goes for his wages at the end of the week, is not concerned if his employer is in a good mood or not. He has worked his specified number of hours and expects to receive the agreed amount in his paycheck.

However, a person who is collecting tzedokoh, inquires as to what is the best time to knock on people's doors. When soliciting donations, one will be more successful if his request are made whilst the donor is in a favorable mood.

In a similar way, we approach Hashem in our tefillos with that realization — Va'ani sefillosi lecho Hashem eis rotzon — that we are not asking for well- earned and deserved wages, but merely for a donation from Him. Consequently, this request has to be made during an eis rotzon in order to succeed.

The Benei Yissoschor points out that tefilloh during a time of eis rotzon creates a direct line to Hashem, as stipulated in the phrase of Va'ani sefillosi lecho Hashem — My prayers go directly to You, Hashem, when the time is favorable. Furthermore, Rashi explains that this opening phrase Va'ani sefillosi lecho Hashem eis rotzon, is a tefilloh to Hashem that whenever else we should daven during the day, we pray that our tefillos should always find favor in His eyes.

The Bnei Yissoschor reinforces the positive effect that is created by this eis rotzon. The numerical value of tefilloh is 515, and when this is added to the numerical value of Hashem's Name of twenty-six, we obtain a total of 541, which equates to that of the word Yisroel. When our tefillos are channeled directly to Lecho Hashem then the Jewish people are affectionately called Yisroel. Hashem appropriately reiterates this close affection to us with the proclamation of the Shabbos Minchah Shemoneh Esrei: Umi ke'amcho Yisroel goy echod bo'oretz — Who is unique like Your Nation Yisroel.

This same posuk has been inserted into our daily tefilloh schedule, as this same contrast exists in our respective behaviors upon awakening in the morning. A goy's prime consideration is to eat a wholesome breakfast so that he can go to work, earn more money . . . and buy more food and drink. He lives his whole life on the "Bed and Breakfast" concept.

In contrast, the Jewish people awake in the morning and immediately begin their day with a spiritual input. A Jew's first consideration is to get up in time for tefilloh, and even if one drinks a coffee before, it is only to give him sufficient strength to daven properly. This contrast alone creates a favorable eis rotzon and a suitable time for us to pray.

An elementary school pupil once asked the principal why the school always begins the daily schedule of lessons with limudei kodesh?

The principal took out a piece of chalk from his drawer and wrote a long string of zeros, right across the double blackboard. He then asked the pupil what number he had written, to which the reply was, zero. The headmaster then proceeded to add a digit "one" in front of this long line of zeros, and asked the same question again: What number have I written now? The boy was unable to calculate the exact number of billions that the correct answer would have been. Adding one small amount of meaningful spiritual content at the beginning of a long day that is otherwise spent on materialistic pursuits will make a phenomenal difference to our entire day. This good start to the day creates the required eis rotzon for us.

The gemora (Brochos 8) tells us that a permanent eis rotzon is created when we daven together with a minyan. Individual tefilloh as part of minyan should ideally be performed when all ten people arrive on time and pray together from beginning to end. Even if He is upset with our present behavior, as represented by His Name of Justice of Elokim, praying as part of a congregation ensures that we will nevertheless find favor with Hashem, as expressed in the closing phrase of, Elokim berov chasdecho, aneini be-emes Yishecho.'

End of Part X

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