Priorities in Prayer

The first story of ויצא, Yaakov’s departure from E”Y, is teaching us fundamental principles about Tefilla.  AlreadyOro_SHEL_ADAM_BEIT_MIDRASH from the second pasuk in the parsha the Torah states,  .”ויפגע במקום”” Yaakov encountered the place.”  Rashi expounds, that the word ויפגע connotes Tefilla.  What are we learning about the order of Tefilla or the priorities within Tefilla from this story at the outset of ויצא?

The Tiferet Shlomo, Rav Shlomo HaCohen from Radumsk, reminds us the following ikaron or principle. The main purpose of Tfilla is that Hashem’s Great Name should become even greater and more sanctified.  We stand in front of Hashem three times daily (or more) mainly to dovin for the pain of the Schechina (Divine Presence), temporarily in exile.  Our emphasis is on Magen Avot, revival of the dead, הקל הקדוש, rebuilding of the Temple, praising and thanking Hashem and Shalom.  Afterwards, based on the above foundation we come in front of Hashem and dovin for our physical needs.   In order for there to be a kiddish Hashem in the world, we also need to ask Hashem to help us make a living, sustain us with health, intellectual capabilities ect.

When looking at the structure of the opening story, Yaakov models for us our priorities in Tefilla.  The first ten verses of the story (28:10-19) are imbued with a spiritual yearning and relationship with Hashem.  At this moment Yaakov establishes Tefillat Arvit.  He dovins for the honor of “the Makom” – Hashem as it says ויפגע במקום.  He dreams of angels of Hashem ascending and descending.  We learn of the spiritual promise to Yaakov of E”Y, the blessing of children, many children, and the promise that Hashem will be with Yaakov for eternity, long after his physical body expires.

In the final three verses of the story (28:20-22) the focus becomes a Tefilla for physical needs.  Only at this latter stage does Yaakov pray for physical protection on his way, bread to eat, clothes to wear and returning in peace.

The Tiferet Shlomo teaches us that the above idea is hinted to in the following mishnah in Zvachim (2:5).

אמר רבי יהודה: זה הכלל: אם מחשבת הזמן קדמה למחשבת המקום- פיגול וחיבים עליו כרת.  ואם מחשבת המקום קדמה למחשבת הזמן – פסול ואין בו כרת

Parshat Vayeshev comes to remind the Children of Yaakov that our priorities in Tefilla should be first and foremost of a pure spiritual nature and then subsequently of a physical nature.

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