Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Falling Before Hashem: Understanding Tachanun

Prayers Against Pestilence

Towards the end of his reign, King David instructed his general, Yoav, to travel throughout the Land of Israel and count all the people in his kingdom. After respectfully blessing the king that his nation should increase, Yoav questioned David’s request. After all, does not the Torah tell us that counting the people brings a plague upon them, for only that which is hidden can receive blessing?

However, David was adamant and so Yoav and his men set out to complete their mission, traveling all over the kingdom of Israel, from the north to the south and the land east of the Jordan River. They counted the Jewish people in all the many towns. More than nine months later, Yoav returned to Jerusalem and presented King David with his census.

Suddenly David understood that he had done wrong and immediately begged Hashem to forgive him. That night Hashem spoke to the prophet Gad and told him to go to King David and tell him to choose one of three punishments for his transgression. When he heard this prophecy, David said to Gad: “I am exceedingly distressed. Let us fall into Hashem’s hand, for His mercies are abundant, but let me not fall into human hands” (Shmuel II 24:14).

By falling before Hashem in complete repentance, David chose the correct path. We see this because even though a plague of pestilence did indeed befall the Jewish people as a result of his decision, it was shortened to half a day instead of three.

In this incident, as in so many others, King David set a precedent with his service of Hashem that Jews continue to emulate to this very day. We likewise fall before Hashem during the daily Tachanun prayer, begging Him to draw us close to Him despite the fact that we have strayed. In addition, some have the custom to mention the above verse from Shmuel before starting to say Tachanun.

Some non-Jews pray with their hands together as if to show that without G-d their hands are powerless. During the Tachanun prayer we take this symbolism even further; we cover our eyes and put our heads down to show that without Divine guidance we cannot see or function (Rabbeinu Bechaya, Bamidbar 16,22). Let us try and understand the halachos and customs of this prayer where we literally fall into Hashem's hands.


Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 


ARTICLES ON VAYIGASH AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Why Didn't Yosef Send A Letter?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

Redemption At A Moment's Notice
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Yosef and Chanukah
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Yosef Provides Us With A Lesson In Etiquette
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

Reading the Signs
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Destiny Today
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

ArtScroll

Love Conquers All
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

Chanukah and Mechiras Yosef: The Hidden Connection
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Chanukah Oil: A Real No-Know
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Feel My Pain
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

A Torah Perspective
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Yosef Recognizes His Brothers
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

> The Right Size Portion
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

The Light of Torah
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5763

Success by Whose Standards?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Time is Precious
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information