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6 Kislev 5766 - December 7, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Meaningful Prayer

by Dovid Leitner

Part 4

In the last article we elaborated on the different translations of the name Naftoli, and their respective connections to prayer. Rashi explained the word Naftulei as an expression of "persistent and obstinate in prayer, analogous to the constant twisting of fibers that produce a continuous thread."

When woolen fibers are sheared from the sheep's back, they have to be cleaned to remove any external dirt that adheres to the wool. Each individual fiber is coated with lanolin, a substance that keeps the sheep dry from the rain. This too is removed, by washing the wool in a large vat. The lanolin is extracted and used in manufacturing hand creams and lotions.

The fibers are then dried and passed through a carding process that aligns them all in one direction. The tongue of wool produced is now ready for spinning, a process that will interlock all the individual fibers together into a long and useful thread that can subsequently be woven into cloth.

Spinning is accomplished, for example, by twisting the tongue of wool in a clockwise direction. A problem arises when one lets go of this twisted thread. It has a natural tendency to unravel again in an anti-clockwise direction, reversing the previous spinning. In order to avoid this, two clockwise spun fibers are subsequently spun together in an anti-clockwise direction, which has a combined effect of stabilizing the spun wool. The initial clockwise spin has a natural tendency to unwind in an anti-clockwise direction, while the combined fibers that were spun in an anti- clockwise direction have an opposite tendency, to unwind in a clockwise direction.

These combined forces neutralize each other and there is no unwinding of the spun fibers at all. They remain in their manufactured state, the way they were intended to be. Every thread of wool is comprised of two plies that were individually spun clockwise, and then twisted together in the opposite anti-clockwise direction. To manufacture thicker threads, this same process is repeated, producing four or six ply wool. By this process of spinning, threads can be manufactured to any desired thickness and required length.

Rashi at the end of gemora Succos explains how the composition of the seventy-two-lettered Name of Hashem is found. There are three consecutive pesukim in the Torah (Shemos 14:19, 20, 21) that each contain seventy- two letters in them. These are combined to form seventy-two three- letter sets.

The first set is formed by taking the first letter of posuk 19, the last letter of posuk 20, and the first letter of posuk 21. This process continues. We take the following letters of these pesukim, and then read posuk 19 and 21 in their normal forward order, and posuk 20, in reverse order. Thereby, the composition of this Name of Hashem is produced by the combination of two pesukim being used in their normal order, and one in the reverse. This resembles the actual process of spinning fibers into a thread, where two threads are spun one way, and then spun together in the opposite direction.

Similarly, Avrohom Ovinu who instituted the Shacharis prayer, is credited with the middoh of Chesed. Yitzchok Ovinu, who established the Mincha prayer, represents the opposite middoh, of Gevuroh, whereas Yaakov Ovinu who instituted Ma'ariv, represents the mitigating middoh of Emes.

The way the Seventy-Two-Letter Name of Hashem is composed, accurately represents the middos of the Ovos who established our three daily tefillos. By tracing the word "Naftulei" to that which means a spun thread, Rashi associates tefilloh to the Revelation incorporated in the full seventy-two letter Name of Hashem and at the same time incorporates the continuous merit that the Ovos provide us with, which helps to achieve success in prayer.

The number seventy-two will occur frequently in subsequent explanations to many of our tefillos. It is a number that corresponds to this special Name of Hashem, and also to the numerical value of chesed, the middoh of Avrohom.

We need to understand, however, why the meaning of the word tefilloh is expressed by the name of Naftoli, more than any other of the twelve tribes?

The Rokeach points out that the numerical value of the name Naftoli is five-hundred-and-seventy. This has the same value as the word esser — the number ten, which is the minimum number of people required to form a minyan. The name Naftoli thereby incorporates all the different meanings of tefilloh, and also the important requirement of tefilloh betzibbur.

Rashi (Bamidbor 14:27) quotes the gemora (Megilla 23b) that derives the minimum requirement of ten people to form a minyan, from the word Eidoh, referring to the ten spies who spoke badly about Eretz Yisroel. The Rokeach points out that the word Eidoh is spelled out as: Ayin, Daled, Hei, which expand into the letters: Ayin Yud Nun, Daled Lamed Tov, Hei Alef. These eight letters also have a total numerical value of five hundred and seventy! (70 + 10 + 50 + 4 + 30 + 400 + 5 + 1 = 570) In this unique way, the spelling of the word Eidoh incorporates the requirement of having ten (esser) people to form a minyan for tefilloh betzibbur.

End of Part 4

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