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


 
Sell Chometz Online


ARTICLES ON TZAV AND PESACH:

View Complete List

Clean Up Your Mess
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

All Alone
Shlomo Katz - 5768

Chased by the Taste
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

ArtScroll

Pesach
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Relating the Chain of Events: Part 1
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Sacrifice by Learning Torah
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

> Yosef’s Bones And Splitting Of The Sea: A Lesson In Unity
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

The Tzivanu Imperative Applies Today
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

Double Entendre In the Word
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Why Are The Laws Of Korban Todah Found In Parshas Tzav?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

A Lesson Learned
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

The Sandwich of the Future
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5769

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Renewable Joy
Shlomo Katz - 5774

A Focus of Our Attention
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

The Meaning of Freedom
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760



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