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Friday, February 18, 2011

Ki Sisa, Shemos 32:10-11. Different Kinds of Tefilla

 When Hashem told Moshe of the Chet Ha'Eigel, Hashem said "leave Me and My anger will burn and I will destroy them...."  Rashi says that this showed Moshe that there was still hope, that if Moshe would refuse to "leave", he could accomplish something.  In fact, Moshe immediately prayed for mercy, and Hashem let the moment pass without destruction.  Looking at Onkelos, you see something interesting.  In Hashem's words to Moshe, the idea that Hashem didn't want Moshe to pray are read into the sentence.  The word for prayer there is B'u'sa.  But when Moshe did pray, the word for prayer is not B'u'sa.  It is Tzlusa.

וְעַתָּה הַנִּיחָה לִּי, וְיִחַר-אַפִּי בָהֶם וַאֲכַלֵּם; וְאֶעֱשֶׂה אוֹתְךָ, לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל.  יא וַיְחַל מֹשֶׁה, אֶת-פְּנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו
וּכְעַן אָנַח בָּעוּתָךְ מִן קֳדָמַי, וְיִתְקַף רֻגְזִי בְּהוֹן וַאֲשֵׁיצֵינוּן; וְאַעֲבֵיד יָתָךְ, לְעַם סַגִּי.  יא וְצַלִּי מֹשֶׁה, קֳדָם יְיָ אֱלָהֵיהּ

Is there any difference between B'u'sa and Tz'lusa?  There must be.  The most famous example of the two words being used together is in Yaakov's charge to Yosef in Breishis 48:22.  Yaakov said
וַאֲנִי נָתַתִּי לְךָ, שְׁכֶם אַחַד--עַל-אַחֶיךָ:  אֲשֶׁר לָקַחְתִּי מִיַּד הָאֱמֹרִי, בְּחַרְבִּי וּבְקַשְׁתִּי
I have given you, Yosef, an additional portion, that which I conquered from the Emorites with my sword and bow.  But Onkelos reads the words of Yaakov metaphorically; the sword and bow are metaphors for prayer, and translates בְּחַרְבִּי וּבְקַשְׁתִּי as  בצלותי ובבעותי.  This interpretation is also found in Bava Basra 123.  Similarly, in Melachim I 8:28, Shlomo Hamelech said
  וּפָנִיתָ אֶל תְּפִלַּת עַבְדְּךָ וְאֶל תְּחִנָּתוֹ ה' אֱלֹקי:  לִשְׁמֹעַ אֶל הָרִנָּה וְאֶל הַתְּפִלָּה אֲשֶׁר עַבְדְּךָ מִתְפַּלֵּל לְפָנֶיךָ הַיּוֹם
the Targum Yonasan translates אֶל הָרִנָּה וְאֶל הַתְּפִלָּה as tze'lusa and be'usa.

The Meshech Chochma and the Netziv there in Breishis explain the differences between the two terms for Tefilla.  According to Reb Meir Simcha, Tzlusa is formal tefilla, and Be'usa is personal and from the heart for a specific occasion.  The Netziv  in the Harcehiv Davar says like Reb Meir Simcha, that Tzlusa, the sword, refers to daily normal tefilla, and be'usa means tefilla for an extraordinary event of the day.  He explains that the sword means the supplicant goes out to battle the usual foot soldiers, the things that normally prevent him from reaching his goal, while Be'usa, the arrow, means that he stays where he is and shoots his weapon to a great distance to finally achieve his ultimate purpose by eliminating the source of the problem.

I want a good explanation of what Onkelos means here.  Evidently, when Hashem said "Don't daven, Moshe," Hashem meant one form of tefilla, and Moshe understood that the time for that tefilla had passed and it wouldn't help, so he immediately used the other type of tefilla.  I need to know the difference, why the former wouldn't work, and why the latter would.  The Meshech Chochma and the Netziv don't help here at all, as far as I can tell.

  • First of all, I really don't understand exactly what they mean.  Obviously, the difference is not one of degree, that the second form is greater than the first, because if it were, why bother with the first?  It reminds me of the time that a very frightened husband came to see Reb Moshe.  His wife had  advanced cancer, and he asked for Reb Moshe to be mispallel for her and for a bracha.  But then has asked if Reb Moshe could possibly learn an extra five minutes a day in his wife's zechus.  Reb Moshe was nonplussed, and responded with vague and noncommittal assurances.  Reb Moshe spent every possible moment learning, and the few minutes he didn't learn, he was doing something that absolutely needed doing.  Same thing with Moshe Rabbeinu.  It is not possible that sometimes he davenned distractedly, or with less kavana.  Whatever he did, he did as perfectly and intently as a human being could do.  So when he was told that one would not work, it was not because he needed to have more kavana.  Clearly, the difference between be'usa and tzlusa is not one of effort and kavana.  So it's a categorical difference, a difference of type.  What is that difference? What characterizes that difference? And how and why would one form of tefilla be inappropriate or inadequate, and the other effective?  And if the answer is beyond our comprehension, why did Chazal bother to tell us about it?
  • Secondly, here, Hashem told Moshe not to daven with Be'usa, so Moshe davenned with Tzlusa.  According to the Netziv and Reb Meir Simcha, that would mean that he was told to not daven with innovative event-focused tefilla, but instead he should daven the formal generic tefilla.  How does that make sense?

This is not a set-up so I can drop my great teretz on people.  I simply don't have a good pshat, and would be happy to hear one.

The first comment refers to something Reb Yosef Ber (YU) said about this, and I got a copy of the sefer that quotes him.  This is "Ahl Hatefila,"  shiurim translated from the Yiddish by Reuven Grodner.  Since it would be problematic to translate it a third time, this is what he says: צלותא הוא תפילה ובקשה בעותא הוא שאלה ודרישה.  He then explains that Tzlusa is asking for what you need.  Be'usa is asking to give us wisdom to understand how to serve Hashem and how to become wise and how to do His will in difficult times.  In Shmoneh Esrei, which is Tzlusa, we say אתה חונן לאדם דעת....חננו מאתך דעה.  But in Ahava Rabba, before Shma, we engage in Be'usa, and say האר עינינו בתורתיך, we seek wisdom.  I would say, then, that Tzlusa addresses problems, and Be'usa seeks growth and wisdom.

It's hard to apply this to Moshe Rabbeinu and to Yaakov Avinu in the pesukim we're addressing.

Micha sent me a link to post he published in which he said:
The Targum Yonasan renders “becharbi uvqashti” as “betzelosi uva’us-hi — with my prayers and my requests”. This is also in Bava Basra 123, “‘Charbi‘ — this is tefillah,qashti‘ – this is baqashah [request].”
Based on this, R’ YB Soloveitchik explains the Targum’s “tzelosana” to refer to our immediate requests — sword-like, in comparison to the longer reach of the bow and arrow. "Tzelosana" is thus our request for health, income, peace in our homes, etc… Whereas the arrows of “bausana” are for things like the coming of mashiach, the restoration of justice, etc…
Personally, I don’t follow. Shemonah Esrei is such an archetype for the form of prayer, Chazal simply refer to it as tefillah or tzelosana (depending on the language). Shemoneh Esrei, even in its immediate requests speaks in the plural, referring to the Jewish people as a whole, not my own immediate needs, and the majority of its requests are a progression describing the ultimate redemption. We have the list of prayers in the gemara (Berakhos 16b) that various tannaim, “after tzelosana — his Shemoneh Esrei — he would say like this”. In contrast, Elokai Netzor, the post-Shemoneh Esrei petition that made it into our liturgy, is written in the first person, about my own religious needs and protection from those who want ill for me personally.
So, in contrast with what Rabbi Soloveitchik suggests, it would seem from usage that tzelosana actually denotes the longer term, less immediate, requests.
If the notion that I am contradicting Rav Soloveitchik didn’t make me insecure in my position, I would think that the similarity driving the parable isn’t immediacy, but something else.
The Vilna Gaon characterizes two kinds of prayer: tefillah and tachanunim. As RYBS himself notes, as does Rav Hirsch, lehitpallel is in the reflective; something we do to ourselves. Teaching ourselves to turn to Hashem, and what things ought to be our priorities. Our primary tefillah was therefore organized by Anshei Keneses haGdolah in the sunset of the prophetic period, as a means of impressing us with the art of dialogue with the A-lmighty.
Turning to our Father with the needs actually on our mind is called tachanunim. An ideal time for tachanunim is immediately after tefillah, as we find in the above-mentioned list of tannaim‘s requests. As well as tachanun. Tefillah is always in the plural, placing ourselves in the context of the community. Tachanunim, like E-lokai Netzor, can also be in the singular. Because E-lokai Netzor exists as a framework for what should essentially be spontaneous, we have a long tradition of adding various requests to it, rather than preserving the tanna‘s coinage untouched.
Just as the tachanunim we say as part of regular davening has this element of a pre-written framework, of tefillah, we allso do not call for pure tefillah with no element of personal outpouring. We ask for the health of a sick friend with an insertion in “Refa’einu“, or Hashem’s help showing our children how to embrace the Torah’s wisdom in “Atah Chonein“, etc… “Whomever makes their tefillos fixed has not made their tefillos into tachanunim.”
This inseparability of these two types of worship might be an implication of the opening words of Mesilas Yesharim. The Ramchal begins, “יסוד החסידות ושורש העבודה – the foundation of piety and the root of work/worship…” The words’ initials are an acronym spelling out the name of G-d. However, three of the letters are prefixes. The Ramchal could have equally written “יסוד העבודה ושורש החסידות” and still have had the same acronym. Why did he choose to associate the more artificial “foundation” with piety, and the image of the more natural “root” when it comes to avodah, which means work? It would seem to me he is intentionally showing that the two are inherently mixed. That conscious work on our relationships with Hashem and with other people must flow from natural growth from the root, and our free emotional expression can’t be divorced from consciously building a foundation. This is AishDas — the inseparable fusion of fiery passion and precise ritual.
Returning to the Vilna Gaon’s distinction, the core difference between tefillah and tachanunim is that tachanunim are a raw primeval reaching out to the A-lmighty, and tefillah is an exercise in how we are supposed to reach out to Him.
In this light, the core of the metaphor in the verse is not distance, but usability. A sword in the hands of an expert is formidable, but even in the hands of a klutz, a sword is dangerous. Arrows shot by someone with no experience at marksmanship are pretty much useless. Thus, tefillah, like those pre-composed by Anshei Keneses haGdolah or Chazal, is more like a sword — of utility to anyone. The art of techinah, of personally composed baqashos — that requires greater skill and for the person to already feel that connection to the A-lmighty that their reflexive response is to cry out to Him, to be of any value.
(The Maharsha on this gemara in Bava Basra comments as follows: “Becharbi” is in response to Esav’s “al charbekha yichyeh — you will live by your sword”, as Yitzchaq described his destiny. “Beqashti” is his defense against the Torah’s description of Yishma’el, “vayhi roveh qashas — and he became great with a bow”. Yaaqov described two tools against two kinds of threat.)



And great unknown sent me to the Netziv on this week's parsha, which I had missed.  After reading the Netziv, this is what I wrote:
The Netziv says that every personal tefilla requires shvach in the beginning. But that's not true when we insert personal tefillos in shmoneh esrei, because it already has shvach in the beginning. But Moshe Rabbeinu never davenned a regular tefilla because he was on a madreiga of no-teva, so there was no concept of regular tefilla for daily needs. So when he did daven for some special need, he had to begin with Shevach. But here, Hashem told him that because his people fell, he was diminished as well, so he was no longer on a hanhaga nissis, so he had to insert the tefilla into a daily normal derech hateva tefilla, which begins with shevach as do all our shmoneh esrei tefillos that begin with avos gevuros and kedusha. Basically, Hashem told him not to do Be'usa- which meant shevach plus special event tefilla. He needed to do the derech hateva tefilla, which already has shevach in it.

So this only tells us the difference in form; tzlusa, daily and formal for normal needs, begins with shevach. Be'usa, special occasional needs, inserted into tzlusa. It doesn't really tell us what the essence of the difference is.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The two appear together in Kaddish- tiskebeil tzlos'hon uv'us'hon. I just saw a translation of Reb Yosef Ber's drashos on Davenning called Al Hatefilla. He quotes the Targum Yonasan on Shlomo Hamelech's tefilla that you mention, and distinguishes between the two as follows.

Tzlusa refers to Tefilla and Bakasha, while B'usa is She'eila and Drasha, as in Amar shomer asa boker...im t'va'ayun ba'ayu (Yeshaya 21:12). B'usa is like Ibaya le'hu in the Gemara. Thus, he contends that when we daven, we ask Hashem to grant our needs as well as to grant us the wisdom and understanding as to the proper way to serve Him.

Thus, Hashem was telling Moshe, now is not the time for trying to intellectualize why Klal Yisrael made the Eigel (e.g., as a stand-in for a human leader, etc.). Moshe took the cue and just poured out his heart as he made a request for his own needs (i.e., Moshe needed a people to lead.)

b said...

Good. I will try to get a copy and see it inside. Yasher Kochacha.

Daniel said...

the pasuk of לשמוע אל הרנה ואל התפלה has always been tricky...

ברכות לא - יכול ישאל אדם צרכיו ואח"כ יתפלל כבר מפורש על ידי שלמה שנאמר (מלכים א ח) לשמוע אל הרנה ואל התפלה רנה זו תפלה תפלה זו בקשה
a very puzzling derasha that seems to literally switch the meanings...

the רנה part seems to be the most puzzling.. the gemara seems to understand רנה as an integral part of a beit knesset irrespective of davening... תניא אבא בנימין אומר אין תפלה של אדם נשמעת אלא בבית הכנסת שנאמר (מלכים א ח) לשמוע אל הרנה ואל התפלה במקום רנה שם תהא תפלה

what is the targum (sorry don't have any on hand) for the pasuk in yirmiya ואל תשא בעדם רנה ותפלה ואל תפגע בי ?

b said...

The passuk in Yirmiah 7:16 is

וְאַתָּה אַל-תִּתְפַּלֵּל בְּעַד-הָעָם הַזֶּה, וְאַל-תִּשָּׂא בַעֲדָם רִנָּה וּתְפִלָּה--וְאַל-תִּפְגַּע-בִּי,
and the Targum is

ואת לא תצלי על עמא הדין ולא תתחנן עליהון בבעו וצלו ולא תבעי מן קדמי

In Melachim 1 8:28, the passuk is
וּפָנִיתָ אֶל תְּפִלַּת עַבְדְּךָ וְאֶל תְּחִנָּתוֹ ה' אֱלֹקי: לִשְׁמֹעַ אֶל הָרִנָּה וְאֶל הַתְּפִלָּה אֲשֶׁר עַבְדְּךָ מִתְפַּלֵּל לְפָנֶיךָ הַיּוֹם ,
and the Targum is

ותתפני לצלותא דעבדך ולבעותיה ה' אלוקי לקבלא צלותא ובעותא דעבדך מצלי קדמך יומא דין

So in Melachim, there seems to be a problem with switching the two by rina and tefilla. But remember, Targum on Nach is kind of like the Tosefta, in that many errors seem to have crept in.

But I believe that ultimately whatever answer we find will be based not on Targumim, but on careful reading of how Moshe davenned when told to avoid Be'usa and so he focused on Tze'lusa.

great unknown said...

see the Netziv Shemos 32:11 [et seq. if you want to go through the entire development of Moshe Rabbeinu's tefilos for Klal Yisroel - it goes on through Shemos 34] where he elaborates on the distinction.

micha said...

See my blog entry "Prayers & Requests".

Teaser:
The Targum Yonasan renders “becharbi uvqashti” [Bereishis 48:22] as “betzelosi uva’us-hi — with my prayers and my requests”. This is also in Bava Basra 123, “‘Charbi‘ — this is tefillah, ‘qashti‘ – this is baqashah [request].”

Based on this, R’ YB Soloveitchik explains...

b said...

gu- I missed it. Thanks. I am going through it slowly- it is not a quick glance kind of piece, if any are. I'm still working on the Gemara in AZ.

Micha- on my way.

b said...

Ok, this is how I understand the Netziv. He says that every personal tefilla requires shvach in the beginning. But that's not true when we insert personal tefillos in shmoneh esrei, because it already has shvach in the beginning. But Moshe Rabbeinu never davenned a regular tefilla because he was on a madreiga of no-teva, so there was no concept of regular tefilla for daily needs. So when he did daven for some special need, he had to begin with Shevach. But here, Hashem told him that because his people fell, he was diminished as well, so he was no longer on a hanhaga nissis, so he had to insert the tefilla into a daily normal derech hateva tefilla, which begins with shevach as do all our shmoneh esrei tefillos that begin with avos gevuros and kedusha. Basically, Hashem told him not to do Be'usa- which meant shevach plus special event tefilla. He needed to do the derech hateva tefilla, which already has shevach in it.

So this only tells us the difference in form; tzlusa, daily and formal for normal needs, begins with shevach. Be'usa, special occasional needs, inserted into tzlusa. It doesn't really tell us what the essence of the difference is.

Daniel said...

Have you looked further at the meforshim on the Midrash and Zohar regarding the 10 leshonot of Tefila? Alternately, the sefer שערים בתפלה .

Sorry I can't contribute anything further.

b said...

Daniel, you've got to be kidding. I'm having enough trouble with two, I need the other eight???

And the Zohar is of limited use to me, because I am looking for something non-Sod oriented, something that speaks in the language of the Gemara and Medrash, not the language of the Zohar and kedomeh.

Daniel said...

Relax. Mention the word Zohar to an ashkenazi and he gets all nervous :-)

I just meant that if you look at the meforshim there on that midrash and see how they explain the words of Tefila, Rina, Bakasha, and Techina (all the one's you're already discussing now) maybe there you'll find discussion as to the difference. Often the MaHarZu is an amazing peirush for explaining the connection between the midrash and the pesukim...