Berakhot 31a:18ברכות ל״א א:יח
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31aל״א א
1 א

אַיְּיתִי כָּסָא דְמוֹקְרָא בַּת אַרְבַּע מְאָה זוּזִי, וְתַבַּר קַמַּיְהוּ, וְאִעֲצִיבוּ.

He brought a valuable cup worth four hundred zuz and broke it before them and they became sad.

2 ב

רַב אָשֵׁי עֲבַד הִילּוּלָא לִבְרֵיהּ, חֲזַנְהוּ לְרַבָּנַן דַּהֲווֹ קָא בָדְחִי טוּבָא. אַיְּיתִי כָּסָא דְּזוּגִּיתָא חִיוָּרְתָּא, וְתַבַּר קַמַּיְהוּ, וְאִעֲצִיבוּ.

The Gemara also relates: Rav Ashi made a wedding feast for his son and he saw the Sages, who were excessively joyous. He brought a cup of extremely valuable white glass and broke it before them, and they became sad.

3 ג

אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ רַבָּנַן לְרַב הַמְנוּנָא זוּטֵי בְּהִלּוּלָא דְּמָר בְּרֵיהּ דְּרָבִינָא: לִישְׁרֵי לַן מָר. אֲמַר לְהוּ: וַי לַן, דְּמִיתְנַן. וַי לַן, דְּמִיתְנַן. אָמְרִי לֵיהּ: אֲנַן מָה נַעֲנֵי בָּתְרָךְ? אֲמַר לְהוּ: הֵי תּוֹרָה, וְהֵי מִצְוָה דְּמַגְּנוּ עֲלַן.

Similarly, the Gemara relates: The Sages said to Rav Hamnuna Zuti at the wedding feast of Mar, son of Ravina: Let the Master sing for us. Since he believed that the merriment had become excessive, he said to them, singing: Woe unto us, for we shall die, woe unto us, for we shall die. They said to him: What shall we respond after you? What is the chorus of the song? He said to them, you should respond: Where is Torah and where is mitzva that protect us?

4 ד

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַאי: אָסוּר לְאָדָם שֶׁיְּמַלֵּא שְׂחוֹק פִּיו בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״אָז יִמָּלֵא שְׂחוֹק פִּינוּ וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה״. אֵימָתַי, בִּזְמַן שֶׁ״יֹּאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם הִגְדִּיל ה׳ לַעֲשׂוֹת עִם אֵלֶּה״. אָמְרוּ עָלָיו עַל רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ שֶׁמִּיָּמָיו לֹא מִלֵּא שְׂחוֹק פִּיו בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, מִכִּי שַׁמְעַהּ מֵרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן רַבֵּיהּ.

In a similar vein, Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: One is forbidden to fill his mouth with mirth in this world, as long as we are in exile (ge’onim), as it is stated: “When the Lord returns the captivity of Zion we will be as dreamers” (Psalms 126:1). Only “then will our mouths fill with laughter and our lips with song” (Psalms 126:2). When will that joyous era arrive? When “they will say among nations, the Lord has done great things with these” (Psalms 126:2). They said about Reish Lakish that throughout his life he did not fill his mouth with laughter in this world once he heard this statement from his teacher, Rabbi Yoḥanan.

5 ה

תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: אֵין עוֹמְדִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל לֹא מִתּוֹךְ דִּין, וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ דְּבַר הֲלָכָה, אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ הֲלָכָה פְּסוּקָה.

We learned in the mishna that it is appropriate to stand and begin to pray from an atmosphere of gravity. Regarding this, the Sages taught: One may neither stand and begin to pray, directly from involvement in judgment nor directly from deliberation over the ruling in a matter of halakha, as his preoccupation with the judgment or the halakhic ruling will distract him from prayer. Rather it is appropriate to pray directly from involvement in the study of a universally accepted conclusive halakha that leaves no room for further deliberation and will not distract him during prayer.

6 ו

וְהֵיכִי דָּמֵי הֲלָכָה פְּסוּקָה?

And the Gemara asks: What is an example of a conclusive halakha?

7 ז

אֲמַר אַבָּיֵי: כִּי הָא דְּרַבִּי זֵירָא, דְּאָמַר רַבִּי זֵירָא: בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל הֶחֱמִירוּ עַל עַצְמָן, שֶׁאֲפִילּוּ רוֹאוֹת טִיפַּת דָּם כְּחַרְדָּל יוֹשְׁבוֹת עָלֶיהָ שִׁבְעָה נְקִיִּים.

The Gemara offers several examples: Abaye said: One like this halakha of Rabbi Zeira, as Rabbi Zeira said: The daughters of Israel were stringent with themselves; to the extent that even if they see a drop of blood corresponding to the size of a mustard seed she sits seven clean days for it. By Torah law, a woman who witnesses the emission of blood during the eleven days following her fixed menstrual period is not considered a menstruating woman; rather she immerses herself and is purified the next day. However, the women of Israel accepted the stringency upon themselves that if they see any blood whatsoever, they act as it if were the blood of a zava, which obligates her to count seven more clean days before becoming ritually pure (see Leviticus 15:25).

8 ח

רָבָא אָמַר, כִּי הָא דְּרַב הוֹשַׁעְיָא, דְּאָמַר רַב הוֹשַׁעְיָא: מַעֲרִים אָדָם עַל תְּבוּאָתוֹ וּמַכְנִיסָהּ בַּמּוֹץ שֶׁלָּהּ, כְּדֵי שֶׁתְּהֵא בְּהֶמְתּוֹ אוֹכֶלֶת, וּפְטוּרָה מִן הַמַּעֲשֵׂר.

Citing an additional example of a conclusive halakha, Rava said: One like this halakha of Rav Hoshaya, as Rav Hoshaya said: A person may employ artifice to circumvent obligations incumbent upon him in dealing with his grain and bring it into the courtyard in its chaff so that his animal will eat from it, and the grain is exempt from tithes. Halakha dictates that one is obligated to tithe grain that has been threshed and piled, regardless of the ultimate purpose for which the grain was intended. By Torah law, one is exempt from tithing grain that was not threshed and is therefore still in its chaff. By rabbinic law, one is prohibited from eating this grain in the framework of a meal. Feeding animals is permitted without first tithing that grain.

9 ט

וְאִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא, כִּי הָא דְּרַב הוּנָא, דְּאָמַר רַב הוּנָא, אָמַר רַבִּי זְעֵירָא: הַמַּקִּיז דָּם בְּבֶהֱמַת קׇדָשִׁים, אָסוּר בַּהֲנָאָה, וּמוֹעֲלִין בּוֹ.

And if you wish, say instead yet another example of a conclusive halakha, which is the recommended prelude to prayer. One like this halakha of Rav Huna, as Rav Huna said that Rabbi Zeira said: One who lets blood from a consecrated animal that was consecrated as a sacrifice; deriving benefit from that blood is prohibited. Although blood of an offering that was sprinkled on the altar is not considered Temple property, nevertheless, deriving benefit from the blood of a living, consecrated animal is considered prohibited use of Temple property. In so doing, one misuses property consecrated to the Temple, and as in any other case of misusing Temple property, if he did so unwittingly, he is liable to bring a guilt-offering.

10 י

רַבָּנַן עָבְדִי כְּמַתְנִיתִין, רַב אָשֵׁי עָבֵיד כְּבָרַיְיתָא.

It is related that the Sages acted in accordance with the opinion of our mishna and rose to pray from an atmosphere of gravity; Rav Ashi acted in accordance with the opinion of the baraita and preceded his prayer with a conclusive halakha.

11 יא

תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: אֵין עוֹמְדִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל לֹא מִתּוֹךְ עַצְבוּת, וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ עַצְלוּת, וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ שְׂחוֹק, וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂיחָה, וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ, וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים, אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂמְחָה שֶׁל מִצְוָה.

On the topic of proper preparation for prayer, the Sages taught: One may neither stand to pray from an atmosphere of sorrow nor from an atmosphere of laziness, nor from an atmosphere of laughter, nor from an atmosphere of conversation, nor from an atmosphere of frivolity, nor from an atmosphere of purposeless matters. Rather, one should approach prayer from an atmosphere imbued with the joy of a mitzva.

12 יב

וְכֵן לֹא יִפָּטֵר אָדָם מֵחֲבֵרוֹ לֹא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂיחָה, וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ שְׂחוֹק, וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ, וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים, אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ דְּבַר הֲלָכָה. שֶׁכֵּן מָצִינוּ בַּנְּבִיאִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים, שֶׁסִּייְּמוּ דִּבְרֵיהֶם בְּדִבְרֵי שֶׁבַח וְתַנְחוּמִים.

Similarly, a person should neither take leave of another from an atmosphere of conversation, nor from an atmosphere of laughter, nor from an atmosphere of frivolity, nor from an atmosphere of purposeless matters. Rather, one should take leave of another from involvement in a matter of halakha. As we found in the books of the Bible dealing with the early prophets, that they would conclude their talks with words of praise and consolation.

13 יג

וְכֵן תְּנָא מָרִי בַּר בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַב הוּנָא בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי יִרְמְיָה בַּר אַבָּא: אַל יִפָּטֵר אָדָם מֵחֲבֵירוֹ אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ דְּבַר הֲלָכָה, שֶׁמִּתּוֹךְ כָּךְ זוֹכְרֵהוּ.

And so Mari, the grandson of Rav Huna, son of Rabbi Yirmeya bar Abba, taught in a baraita: One should only take leave of another from involvement in a matter of halakha, so that, consequently, he will remember him; whenever he recalls the one from whom he took leave, he will think well of him because of the new halakha that he taught him (Eliyahu Zuta).

14 יד

כִּי הָא דְּרַב כָּהֲנָא אַלְוְיֵיהּ לְרַב שִׁימִי בַּר אָשֵׁי מִפּוּם נַהֲרָא עַד בֵּי צִנְיָתָא דְּבָבֶל. כִּי מְטָא לְהָתָם אֲמַר לֵיהּ: מָר, וַדַּאי דְאָמְרִי אִינָשֵׁי: הָנֵי צִנְיָתָא דְּבָבֶל אִיתַנְהוּ מֵאָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן וְעַד הַשְׁתָּא?

As in the incident related by the Gemara that Rav Kahana accompanied Rav Shimi bar Ashi from the town of Pum Nahara to the palm grove in Babylonia. When he arrived there, Rav Kahana said to Rav Shimi bar Ashi: Master, what is meant by that which people say: These palm trees of Babylonia have been in this place from the time of Adam the first man until now?

15 טו

אֲמַר לֵיהּ: אַדְכַּרְתַּן מִילְּתָא דְּרַבִּי יוֹסֵי בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא, דְּאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא: מַאי דִּכְתִיב ״בְּאֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר לֹא עָבַר בָּהּ אִישׁ וְלֹא יָשַׁב אָדָם שָׁם״, וְכִי מֵאַחַר דְּלֹא עָבַר הֵיאַךְ יָשַׁב? אֶלָּא לוֹמַר לָךְ כׇּל אֶרֶץ שֶׁגָּזַר עָלֶיהָ אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן לְיִשּׁוּב — נִתְיַשְּׁבָה. וְכׇל אֶרֶץ שֶׁלֹּא גָּזַר עָלֶיהָ אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן לְיִשּׁוּב — לֹא נִתְיַשְּׁבָה.

Rav Shimi bar Ashi said to him: You reminded me of something that Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said, as Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “In a land through which no man has passed and where no person [adam] has settled” (Jeremiah 2:6)? This verse is difficult; since it is a land through which no person has passed, how could anyone have settled there permanently? The statement that “no person has settled there” is redundant. Rather, this verse comes to teach that every land through which Adam the first man passed and decreed that it would be settled was settled, and every land through which Adam passed and decreed that it would not be settled was not settled. Based on this, what people say is true, and the palm trees of Babylonia are from the time of Adam, meaning that from the time of Adam this land was decreed to be suitable for growing palm trees (Me’iri). The Gemara cited an example of how one who parts from another with Torah learns something new.

16 טז

רַב מָרְדְּכַי אַלְוְיֵיהּ לְרַב שִׁימִי בַּר אָשֵׁי מֵהַגְרוֹנְיָא, וְעַד בֵּי כֵיפֵי. וְאָמְרִי לַהּ עַד בֵּי דוּרָא.

Having mentioned the mitzva for a student to accompany his Rabbi, the Gemara relates that Rav Mordekhai accompanied his mentor, Rav Shimi bar Ashi, a great distance, from the city of Hagronya to Bei Keifei; and some say that he accompanied from Hagronya to Bei Dura.

17 יז

תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל צָרִיךְ שֶׁיְּכַוֵּין אֶת לִבּוֹ לַשָּׁמַיִם. אַבָּא שָׁאוּל אוֹמֵר: סִימָן לַדָּבָר, ״תָּכִין לִבָּם תַּקְשִׁיב אׇזְנֶךָ״.

Returning to the topic of preparation for prayer, the Sages taught in the Tosefta: One who prays must focus his heart toward Heaven. Abba Shaul says: An indication of the importance of this matter is stated in the verse: “The desire of the humble You have heard, Lord; direct their hearts, Your ear will listen” (Psalms 10:17). In other words, if one focuses his heart in prayer as a result of God directing his heart, his prayer will be accepted as God’s ear will listen.

18 יח

תַּנְיָא אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה: כָּךְ הָיָה מִנְהָגוֹ שֶׁל רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, כְּשֶׁהָיָה מִתְפַּלֵּל עִם הַצִּיבּוּר — הָיָה מְקַצֵּר וְעוֹלֶה, מִפְּנֵי טוֹרַח צִבּוּר. וּכְשֶׁהָיָה מִתְפַּלֵּל בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ — אָדָם מַנִּיחוֹ בְּזָוִית זוֹ, וּמוֹצְאוֹ בְּזָוִית אַחֶרֶת. וְכׇל כָּךְ לָמָּה? מִפְּנֵי כְּרִיעוֹת וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוָיוֹת.

With regard to one’s intent during prayer, it was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda said: This was the custom of Rabbi Akiva, when he would pray with the congregation he would shorten his prayer and go up, due to his desire to avoid being an encumbrance on the congregation by making them wait for him to finish his prayer. But when he prayed by himself he would extend his prayers to an extent that a person would leave Rabbi Akiva alone in one corner of the study hall and later find him still praying in another corner. And why would Rabbi Akiva move about so much? Because of his bows and prostrations. Rabbi Akiva’s enthusiasm in prayer was so great, that as a result of his bows and prostrations, he would unwittingly move from one corner to the other (Rav Hai Gaon).

19 יט

אָמַר רַבִּי חִיָּיא בַּר אַבָּא: לְעוֹלָם יִתְפַּלֵּל אָדָם בְּבַיִת שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ חַלּוֹנוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וְכַוִּין פְּתִיחָן לֵיהּ וְגוֹ׳״.

Many halakhot are derived from evoking the prayers of biblical characters. Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said: One should always pray in a house with windows, as it is stated regarding Daniel: “And when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went to his house. In his attic there were open windows facing Jerusalem, and three times a day he knelt upon his knees and prayed and gave thanks before his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:11).

20 כ

יָכוֹל יִתְפַּלֵּל אָדָם כׇּל הַיּוֹם כּוּלּוֹ — כְּבָר מְפוֹרָשׁ עַל יְדֵי דָּנִיאֵל: ״וְזִמְנִין תְּלָתָא וְגוֹ׳״.

In the Tosefta, additional halakhot were derived from Daniel’s prayer. I might have thought that one could pray as many times as he wishes throughout the entire day; it has already been articulated by Daniel, with regard to whom it is stated: “And three times a day he knelt upon his knees and prayed.” This teaches that there are fixed prayers.

21 כא

יָכוֹל מִשֶּׁבָּא לַגּוֹלָה הוּחַלָּה — כְּבָר נֶאֱמַר: ״דִּי הֲוָא עָבֵד מִן קַדְמַת דְּנָא״.

I might have thought that this practice of fixed prayer began only when he came to the Babylonian exile; it was stated: “Just as he had done before.”

22 כב

יָכוֹל יִתְפַּלֵּל אָדָם לְכׇל רוּחַ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה — תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר: ״(לָקֳבֵל) [נֶגֶד] יְרוּשְׁלֶם״.

Further, I might have thought that one may pray facing any direction he wishes; the verse states: The appropriate direction for prayer is “facing Jerusalem.”

23 כג

יָכוֹל יְהֵא כּוֹלְלָן בְּבַת אַחַת — כְּבָר מְפוֹרָשׁ עַל יְדֵי דָּוִד, דִּכְתִיב: ״עֶרֶב וָבֹקֶר וְצָהֳרַיִם וְגוֹ׳״.

Daniel does not describe how these three prayers are distributed during the day. I might have thought that one may include all three prayers at one time; it has already been articulated by David that one may not do so, as it is written: “Evening and morning and noon, I pray and cry aloud and He hears my voice” (Psalms 55:18).

24 כד

יָכוֹל יַשְׁמִיעַ קוֹלוֹ בִּתְפִלָּתוֹ — כְּבָר מְפוֹרָשׁ עַל יְדֵי חַנָּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וְקוֹלָהּ לֹא יִשָּׁמֵעַ״.

Furthermore, I might have thought that one may make his voice heard in his Amida prayer; it has already been articulated by Hannah in her prayer, as it is stated: “And Hannah spoke in her heart, only her lips moved and her voice could not be heard” (I Samuel 1:13).

25 כה

יָכוֹל יִשְׁאַל אָדָם צְרָכָיו וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִתְפַּלֵּל — כְּבָר מְפוֹרָשׁ עַל יְדֵי שְׁלֹמֹה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״לִשְׁמֹעַ אֶל הָרִנָּה וְאֶל הַתְּפִלָּה״. ״רִנָּה״ זוֹ תְּפִלָּה, ״תְּפִלָּה״ זוֹ בַּקָּשָׁה. אֵין אוֹמֵר דְּבַר בַּקָּשָׁה אַחַר ״אֱמֶת וְיַצִּיב״. אֲבָל אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה, אֲפִילּוּ כְּסֵדֶר וִדּוּי שֶׁל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים אוֹמֵר.

Halakhot regarding the order of the prayers were also learned from the prayers of biblical characters. I might have thought that one should request his own needs first, and afterwards recite prayers of thanksgiving and praise; it has already been articulated by Solomon that this is not so, as in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Holy Temple it is stated: “To hear the song and the prayer that Your servant prays before You today” (I Kings 8:28). In this verse, song is prayer in the sense of thanks and praise, and prayer is one’s request of his personal needs. Therefore, one who is praying does not speak matters of request after he began to recite emet veyatziv prior to the Amida prayer, which is the essence of prayer. Rather, he begins with praise in the first three blessings of the Amida prayer, and only thereafter does he include requests for his needs. But after the Amida prayer there is no limit. If he desires to recite even the equivalent of the order of the confession of Yom Kippur, he may recite it.

26 כו

אִיתְּמַר נָמֵי, אָמַר רַב חִיָּיא בַּר אָשֵׁי אָמַר רַב: אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָמְרוּ שׁוֹאֵל אָדָם צְרָכָיו בְּ״שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה״, אִם בָּא לוֹמַר אַחַר תְּפִלָּתוֹ — אֲפִילּוּ כְּסֵדֶר שֶׁל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים אוֹמֵר.

This was also stated by an amora; Rav Ḥiyya bar Ashi said that Rav said: Although the Sages said that one requests his personal needs in the blessing: Who listens to prayer, that is with regard to one who wishes to do so as part of the Amida prayer. If he comes to add and recite additional requests after completing his Amida prayer, even if his personal requests are the equivalent of the order of the confession of Yom Kippur, he may recite them.

27 כז

אָמַר רַב הַמְנוּנָא: כַּמָּה הִלְכְתָא גִּבָּרָווֹתָא אִיכָּא לְמִשְׁמַע מֵהָנֵי קְרָאֵי דְחַנָּה. ״וְחַנָּה הִיא מְדַבֶּרֶת עַל לִבָּהּ״ — מִכָּאן לַמִּתְפַּלֵּל צָרִיךְ שֶׁיְּכַוֵּין לִבּוֹ. ״רַק שְׂפָתֶיהָ נָּעוֹת״ — מִכָּאן לַמִּתְפַּלֵּל שֶׁיַּחְתּוֹךְ בִּשְׂפָתָיו. ״וְקוֹלָהּ לֹא יִשָּׁמֵעַ״ — מִכָּאן שֶׁאָסוּר לְהַגְבִּיהַּ קוֹלוֹ בִּתְפִלָּתוֹ. ״וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ עֵלִי לְשִׁכֹּרָה״ — מִכָּאן שֶׁשִּׁכּוֹר אָסוּר לְהִתְפַּלֵּל.

Rav Hamnuna said: How many significant halakhot can be derived from these verses of the prayer of Hannah? As it says: “And Hannah spoke in her heart, only her lips moved and her voice could not be heard, so Eli thought her to be drunk” (I Samuel 1:13). The Gemara elaborates: From that which is stated here: “And Hannah spoke in her heart,” the halakha that one who prays must focus his heart on his prayer is derived. And from that which is stated here: “Only her lips moved,” the halakha that one who prays must enunciate the words with his lips, not only contemplate them in his heart, is derived. From that which is written here: “And her voice could not be heard,” the halakha that one is forbidden to raise his voice in his Amida prayer as it must be recited silently. From the continuation of the verse here: “So Eli thought her to be drunk,” the halakha that a drunk person is forbidden to pray. That is why he rebuked her.

28 כח

״וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלֶיהָ עֵלִי עַד מָתַי תִּשְׁתַּכָּרִין וְגוֹ׳״. אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: מִכָּאן לָרוֹאֶה בַּחֲבֵרוֹ

On the subject of Eli’s rebuke of Hannah, as it is stated: “And Eli said to her: How long will you remain drunk? Remove your wine from yourself” (I Samuel 1:14); Rabbi Elazar said: From here the halakha that one who sees in another