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

Email this article to a friend

After the Fact

We have established that one is obligated to concentrate on the meaning of the words that he is saying, at least during the first berachah of Shemoneh Esrei. If a person did not pay proper attention, he did not fulfill the mitzvah of tefillah; however, he is not required to repeat his prayer, for fear that the next tefillah would encounter the same lack of intention (Rema).

What can a person do if he has just completed the first blessing of Shemoneh Esrei without intention? If he is in shul, he may listen to the first berachah recited by the shaliach tzibbur, and then continue his tefillah (Biur Halachah 101,1). However, this is not the customary practice (Ishei Yisrael 11,8). Some suggest that reviewing the entire first berachah in one's head without verbalizing the words, instills the concentration into one's tefillah.

Since today the attention span has dwindled down to seconds, we must address the following question. If a person did not have the proper intention for the first blessing, how can he be permitted to continue? Aren’t all of the ensuing berachos considered to be uttered in vain?

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach explains that the blessings that follow are not said in vain. Once the first berachah was recited devoid of proper intention, his berachos cannot be considered a cohesive unit of tefillah. Rather, they are related to as nineteen separate blessings (as cited in Siach Halachah 104,4). Although one does not fulfill the mitzvah of tefillah, it is as if he recited nineteen blessings.

Gaining Composure

Chazal tell us, “If a person does not make his tefillah keva (set), then they cannot be considered prayers.” Rav Hoshia says this means that he recites his tefillos in a way that implies ridding himself of the obligation. The Chachamim explain that that this refers to praying without tachanunim (supplications).

The halachah accepts both understandings. Therefore, a person should try and avoid praying in a frame of mind of “getting things over with” (Shulchan Aruch 93,1). In addition, he should intone the supplications at the end of Shemoneh Esrei (Elokai Netzor) with heartfelt feeling, adding some of his own entreaties (Shulchan Aruch 98,3).

We can comprehend the more profound significance of this halachah by visualizing someone who must appear before a king. This person realizes that his life is on the line, and he needs to be focused and to speak with emotion. If he recognizes the urgency of the situation he will definitely not attempt to run off after a curt exchange.

Today’s attention span has dwindled, and we are no longer so adept at conducting a focused conversation. These two halachos are crucial to ensure successful communication with Hashem. Preparing ourselves before, during and after prayer, can help us gain the composure and state of mind needed to approach the King of kings.


Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON KI SISA AND PURIM:

View Complete List

Complete Dedication
Rabbi Yosey Goldstein - 5756

From Rags to Riches
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

When Giving is Taking
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

ArtScroll

Pocketbook Judaism
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

A Jew and Proud of It!
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

The Negative Side of Individuality
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

What's Bad is Good
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Sacrifice by Learning Torah
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Shabbat Precedes the Building of the Mishkan
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

> Spiritually-Independent
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5772

In Command of Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Feeling Inspired
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Oh No! Not DeNILE Again!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Visions of Tefillin
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

Guidance Needed
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

Let Us Not Break Those Too!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774



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