The Mishnah in Menachos (110:1) states: "The Torah says in regard to the
burnt offering of the animal -- 'sweet smell.' In regard to the burnt offering
of fowl, again it states -- 'sweet smell.' So, too, in regard to the flour
offering, it is said -- 'sweet smell.' This tells you: It makes no difference
if one does much or little, as long as his intention is for the sake of heaven."
The Shulchan Oruch states the law (1:3): "It is better to say few prayers
with intention, than many without intention."
The Taz, commentary to Shulchan Oruch, questioned. "It makes no difference
if one does much or little, as long as the intention is for the sake of heaven."
Shouldn't it be better to say more prayers with concentration, than to say
few prayers with concentration? Why does the phrasing of the Talmud indicate
that quantity has no significance whatsoever?
The Taz answered with a story from the Talmud regarding Rava and Rav Hamnunah.
Rav Hamnunah preferred to pray at length, but Rava said the prayers quickly.
Since Rava's intent was merely to maintain his concentration (he was afraid
he would be distracted if he were to pray too long), this was just as worthy
as praying at great length.
There are many traditions regarding these quotes in the school of Peshischa
-- Kotzk -- Ger.
The Talmud (Brochos 30:b) states: The original Chasidim (pious) would
prepare themselves for an hour and pray for an hour -- in order to direct
their hearts towards heaven.
The Kotzker Rebbe asked: The Talmud should have said: The original Chasidim
would prepare themselves for an hour -- in order to direct their hearts towards
heaven, and then pray.
The Rebbe concluded: It was not that they would prepare for an hour, but
their preparation and their prayer together comprised an hour. After the
prayer, their hearts were directed towards heaven. (Ohel Torah)
In fact, this is how the Rebbe conducted himself, as is known. The prayers
were short, swift and strong. He would not pray loudly, nor would he whisper;
rather, he would say the prayers as if he were speaking to someone. After
the davening, he would be changed -- as if another person... (Emes V'emunah)
The Rebbe explained: "It makes no difference if one does much or little,
as long as the intention is for the sake of heaven." This is to say -- even
the one who prays at length, also has to keep up his concentration! (Ohel
Chodshei Hashanah (Part Seventeen)
The Month of Adar vs. the Month of Av (Summertime)
The Gerrer Rebbe wrote: There is no advantage whatsoever in the quantity
of the prayers. Perhaps, the opposite -- one who is unable to do much, and
concentrates on the little that he does, is considered greater. Indeed, the
main explanation of the quote "It makes no difference if one does much or
little..." is referring to 'days of good' and 'days of evil.' Increasing
action during the days of good, and decreasing action during the days of
evil, is one and the same concept. As the Chozeh from Lublin said: " 'As
Adar enters, increase simchah (rejoicing). As Av enters, reduce simchah.'
(Talmud). The one refers to increasing sanctity, the other to reducing impurity."
The month of Adar is the time of year that is effused with sanctity and
purity. Prayers are heard on Purim more than any other time. The Divre Shmuel
(the Rebbe of Slonim) indicates that the happiness of the day is essential
to the power of prayer of Purim. "If we do His will and rejoice, He will
do our will, and fulfill our prayers."
Purim: Saturday Night March 22, to Monday, March 24, 1997
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein PC Kollel 1 Babbin Court Spring Valley,
NY 10977 Phone: 914-425-3565 Fax: 914-425-4296 E-mail: