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Berachos 34


OPINIONS: What does Rav Asi mean by saying that there is no order to the middle Berachos of Shemoneh Esreh?
(a) According to RASHI and RABEINU CHANANEL, he means that if one skips one of the middle Berachos, he may fill it in *anywhere* before the last three Berachos, and not necessarily in the place that it is supposed to be said. The middle Berachos may be recited out of order.

(b) TOSFOS (DH Emtza'iyos) cites RASHBAM and the RIF who disagree and maintain that even according to Rav Asi, the Berachos must be said in order. (That is, if a person skips a Berachah and adds it later, he must continue by saying the rest of the Berachos that follow the skipped Berachah, in order, until the end of Shemoneh Esreh.) What Rav Asi means is that it is not necessary to begin again from the *first* of the middle Berachos just because a mistake was made in one of the later middle Berachos.

(These two explanations revolve around the Girsa in our Sugya. Rashi must have had the Girsa recorded in the Gilyon ha'Shas of Rebbi Akiva Eiger, while Tosfos had the Girsa that appears in our texts, as the marginal note in Dikdukei Sofrim #9 points out.) The Halachah is in accordance with Tosfos.
QUESTION: The Gemara tells us that one need not mention the name of the sick person that one is praying for. The MIDRASH HA'ZOHAR, however, seems to say otherwise. From that fact that Yakov prayed, "Save me, Hashem, from *my brother*, *from Esav*," the Zohar (Vayishlach) learns that one must be very specific when praying to Hashem!


(a) The Magen Avraham (119:1) cites from MAHARIL that our Gemara is referring to a person who is praying for a sick person *in the presence of* that sick person. When not in the presence of the afflicted, the name of the person that one is praying for must be mentioned. If so, Yakov was correct in being specific about his prayers, since they were not said in Esav's presence. (EINAYIM LA'MISHPAT) (Of course, this only applies when it is possible to do so -- see Rashi Bamidbar 21:1, "they prayed namelessly." Alternatively, perhaps they were praying after the enemy was already close by, and it since the enemy was before them there was no need to mention his name -MK.)!

(b) It may also be suggested that one need not be specific about the person who is the *subject* of the prayer (i.e., who the prayer if benefiting). However, one must be specific about what he would like to be saved *from*. Hashem knows who we have in mind to pray *for*, but by not mentioning what Hashem is to save us *from*, we appear to be belittling the salvation by not recognizing the full horror of the possible calamity (similar to what the Maharsha suggests in Megilah 15b about Ester's prayer to be saved "from the dog...."). (M. Kornfeld)


QUESTION: The Gemara tells us that Rava bowed at the beginning and end of "Modim," and the Rabanan were surprised by his actions. Why does the Gemara consider Rava's actions to be so novel, and why were the Rabanan surprised? The Beraisa (34a) says explicitly that one must bow down at the beginning and end of Modim!

ANSWERS: The TOSFOS HA'ROSH and RASHBA gives two answers.

(a) First, they answer that the Beraisa on 34a did not have the text of "beginning and end," but only said that one should bow at "Modim." It was Rava's interpretation that one is to bow both at the beginning and end of "Modim."

(b) The Tosfos ha'Rosh and Rashba give a second answer in the name of the RA'AVAD. The Ra'avad explains that Rava did not bow down at the beginning and end of "Modim" in his own Shemoneh Esreh, but at the beginning and end of "Modim d'Rabanan" that is recited during the Chazan's repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh.

(a) The BEIS YOSEF (OC 127) explains that the practice in his time was only to bow down at the beginning of "Modim d'Rabanan." This is also the VILNA GAON'S ruling.

(b) However, he concludes, and repeats in the SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 127:1) that it is better to be stringent and bow down, like the Ra'avad, at both the beginning and end of Modim d'Rabanan.

(c) The Beis Yosef mentions that he saw written by a certain great Sage a compromise: one is to bow down once at the beginning of Modim d'Rabanan, and to remain bowed until the end. The REMA records this practice as the Halachah, and writes also that such was the practice in his area.

QUESTION: The Gemara says that a person must have Kavanah when reciting Shemoneh Esreh at least for the first blessing, the blessing of Avos. This implies that if one does not have Kavanah during the rest of Shemoneh Esreh, he nevertheless fulfills his obligation.

The RAMBAM (Hilchos Tefilah 10:1) cites this as the Halachah. Yet in another place (Hil. Tefilah 4:1), the Rambam seems to rule that if one does not have Kavanah during *any* of the blessings of Shemoneh Esreh, he does not fulfill his obligation! How are the two rulings of the Rambam to be reconciled?

ANSWER: RAV CHAIM SOLOVECHIK explains that the Kavanah that the Rambam is discussing in 4:1 is a different type of Kavanah than that of our Gemara. The Rambam there is discussing the Kavanah that one is standing before G-d while he prays the Shemoneh Esreh, as the Rambam himself writes (Hilchos Tefilah 4:16). Our Gemara, on the other hand, is referring to a simpler Kavanah, that of understanding the *meaning* of what one is saying.

Rav Chaim gives two reasons why not having Kavanah that one is standing before G-d at any point in Shemoneh Esreh will invalidate one's Shemoneh Esreh: (1) If he does not have Kavanah, his action of praying is considered to be no more than "Misasek" (his body does the action mindlessly), and he does not fulfill his obligation. (2) "Mitzvos Tzerichos Kavanah" -- one must have Kavanah that one is fulfilling a Mitzvah in order to actually fulfill that Mitzvah. If one does not have Kavanah that he is standing before G-d during Shemoneh Esreh, he is lacking this Kavanah.

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