אייתי כסא דמוקרא בת ארבע מאה זוזי ותבר קמיהו ואעציבו
He brought a valuable cup worth four hundred zuz and broke it before them and they became sad.
רב אשי עבד הילולא לבריה חזנהו לרבנן דהוו קא בדחי טובא אייתי כסא דזוגיתא חיורתא ותבר קמיהו ואעציבו
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.
אמרו ליה רבנן לרב המנונא זוטי בהלולא דמר בריה דרבינא לישרי לן מר אמר להו וי לן דמיתנן וי לן דמיתנן אמרי ליה אנן מה נעני בתרך אמר להו הי תורה והי מצוה דמגנו עלן
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?
אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יוחאי אסור לאדם שימלא שחוק פיו בעולם הזה שנאמר אז ימלא שחוק פינו ולשוננו רנה אימתי בזמן שיאמרו בגוים הגדיל ה׳ לעשות עם אלה אמרו עליו על ריש לקיש שמימיו לא מלא שחוק פיו בעולם הזה מכי שמעה מרבי יוחנן רביה:
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.
תנו רבנן אין עומדין להתפלל לא מתוך דין ולא מתוך דבר הלכה אלא מתוך הלכה פסוקה
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.
והיכי דמי הלכה פסוקה
And the Gemara asks: What is an example of a conclusive halakha?
אמר אביי כי הא דרבי זירא דאמר רבי זירא בנות ישראל החמירו על עצמן שאפילו רואות טיפת דם כחרדל יושבת עליה שבעה נקיים
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).
רבא אמר כי הא דרב הושעיא דאמר רב הושעיא מערים אדם על תבואתו ומכניסה במוץ שלה כדי שתהא בהמתו אוכלת ופטורה מן המעשר
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.
ואיבעית אימא כי הא דרב הונא דאמר רב הונא אמר רבי זעירא המקיז דם בבהמת קדשים אסור בהנאה ומועלין בו
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.
רבנן עבדי כמתניתין רב אשי עביד כברייתא
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.
תנו רבנן אין עומדין להתפלל לא מתוך עצבות ולא מתוך עצלות ולא מתוך שחוק ולא מתוך שיחה ולא מתוך קלות ראש ולא מתוך דברים בטלים אלא מתוך שמחה של מצוה
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.
וכן לא יפטר אדם מחברו לא מתוך שיחה ולא מתוך שחוק ולא מתוך קלות ראש ולא מתוך דברים בטלים אלא מתוך דבר הלכה שכן מצינו בנביאים הראשונים שסיימו דבריהם בדברי שבח ותנחומים
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.
וכן תנא מרי בר בריה דרב הונא בריה דרבי ירמיה בר אבא אל יפטר אדם מחבירו אלא מתוך דבר הלכה שמתוך כך זוכרהו
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).
כי הא דרב כהנא אלוייה לרב שימי בר אשי מפום נהרא עד בי צניתא דבבל כי מטא להתם אמר ליה מר ודאי דאמרי אינשי הני צניתא דבבל איתנהו מאדם הראשון ועד השתא
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?
אמר ליה אדכרתן מילתא דרבי יוסי ברבי חנינא דאמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא מאי דכתיב בארץ אשר לא עבר בה איש ולא ישב אדם שם וכי מאחר דלא עבר היאך ישב אלא לומר לך כל ארץ שגזר עליה אדם הראשון לישוב נתישבה וכל ארץ שלא גזר עליה אדם הראשון לישוב לא נתישבה
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.
רב מרדכי אלוייה לרב שימי בר אשי מהגרוניא ועד בי כיפי ואמרי לה עד בי דורא:
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.
תנו רבנן המתפלל צריך שיכוין את לבו לשמים אבא שאול אומר סימן לדבר תכין לבם תקשיב אזנך
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.
תניא אמר רבי יהודה כך היה מנהגו של רבי עקיבא כשהיה מתפלל עם הציבור היה מקצר ועולה מפני טורח צבור וכשהיה מתפלל בינו לבין עצמו אדם מניחו בזוית זו ומוצאו בזוית אחרת וכל כך למה מפני כריעות והשתחויות:
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).
אמר רבי חייא בר אבא לעולם יתפלל אדם בבית שיש בו חלונות שנאמר וכוין פתיחן ליה וגו׳
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).
יכול יתפלל אדם כל היום כולו כבר מפורש על ידי דניאל וזמנין תלתא וגו׳
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.
יכול משבא לגולה הוחלה כבר נאמר די הוא עבד מן קדמת דנא
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.”
יכול יתפלל אדם לכל רוח שירצה תלמוד לומר (לקבל) נגד ירושלם
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.”
יכול יהא כוללן בבת אחת כבר מפורש על ידי דוד דכתיב ערב ובקר וצהרים וגו׳
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).
יכול ישמיע קולו בתפלתו כבר מפורש על ידי חנה שנאמר וקולה לא ישמע
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).
יכול ישאל אדם צרכיו ואחר כך יתפלל כבר מפורש על ידי שלמה שנאמר לשמע אל הרנה ואל התפלה רנה זו תפלה תפלה זו בקשה אין אומר דבר בקשה אחר אמת ויציב אבל אחר התפלה אפילו כסדר ודוי של יום הכפורים אומר
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.
איתמר נמי אמר רב חייא בר אשי אמר רב אף על פי שאמרו שואל אדם צרכיו בשומע תפלה אם בא לומר אחר תפלתו אפילו כסדר של יום הכפורים אומר:
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.
אמר רב המנונא כמה הלכתא גברוותא איכא למשמע מהני קראי דחנה וחנה היא מדברת על לבה מכאן למתפלל צריך שיכוין לבו רק שפתיה נעות מכאן למתפלל שיחתוך בשפתיו וקולה לא ישמע מכאן שאסור להגביה קולו בתפלתו ויחשבה עלי לשכרה מכאן ששכור אסור להתפלל
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.
ויאמר אליה עלי עד מתי תשתכרין וגו׳ אמר רבי אלעזר מכאן לרואה בחברו
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