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 DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

A Clash of Titans
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

Flight to Freedom
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

Kamtza and Bar-Kamtza
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

ArtScroll

Tooth and Nail
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

Born To Be Wise
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

What Are We Mourning?
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5771

> Fear Itself
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Careful Consideration of Chinuch Concessions
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5768

Of Prophets and Teachers
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Payment in Full
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Paradise Lost
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

A Hopeful Mourning
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Children are a Gift
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

One Heart
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Immortal Teacher
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Visionary Words
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759



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