חברותא כלפי שמיא מי איכא אי לא כוון דעתיה מעיקרא מחינן ליה במרזפתא דנפחא עד דמכוין דעתיה:
Can one have that degree of familiarity with Heaven, to the extent that he can take his words lightly and say them however he likes? If he did not focus his attention initially, we beat him with a blacksmith’s hammer until he focuses his attention, as conduct of that sort is unacceptable.
מתני׳ (האומר יברכוך טובים הרי זה דרכי מינות) העובר לפני התיבה וטעה יעבור אחר תחתיו ולא יהא סרבן באותה שעה מהיכן הוא מתחיל מתחלת הברכה שטעה זה
MISHNA: This mishna and the next one deal with the communal prayer leader. (If one says: “May the good bless You,” this is a path of heresy.) One who is passing before the ark, as prayer leader, and erred, another should immediately pass in his place, and at that moment, this replacement should not refuse in the interest of courtesy. The Amida prayer was interrupted and he should replace him as quickly as possible. From where does the replacement commence? From the beginning of the blessing in which the former had erred.
העובר לפני התיבה לא יענה אמן אחר הכהנים מפני הטרוף ואם אין שם כהן אלא הוא לא ישא את כפיו ואם הבטחתו שהוא נושא את כפיו וחוזר לתפלתו רשאי:
In order to prevent the prayer leader from erring in his prayer, it was said that one who passes before the ark should not respond amen after the blessing of the priests, because of potential confusion. Since the mishna is describing a situation in which he was praying without a prayer book, responding amen would interrupt the order of the prayer and potentially lead him to begin a different blessing. For this reason, even if there is no priest other than the communal prayer leader, he does not lift his hands to bless the people, lest he become confused. And, however, if he is certain that he can lift his hands and resume his prayer without becoming confused, he is permitted to recite the blessing.
גמ׳ תנו רבנן העובר לפני התיבה צריך לסרב ואם אינו מסרב דומה לתבשיל שאין בו מלח ואם מסרב יותר מדאי דומה לתבשיל שהקדיחתו מלח כיצד הוא עושה פעם ראשונה יסרב שניה מהבהב שלישית פושט את רגליו ויורד
GEMARA: The mishna teaches that one who replaces a communal prayer leader who erred in the middle of the Amida prayer should not refuse when approached. The Gemara cites the general halakha with regard to proper conduct when one is approached to serve as prayer leader. The Sages taught in a baraita: One who is approached to pass before the ark to serve as prayer leader, for the sake of propriety should refuse, to avoid creating the impression that he is too eager. And if he does not refuse, but jumps at the opportunity, he is like cooked food without salt, which is to say that he acts in bad taste. However, if he refuses too much this is similarly inappropriate, as he is like cooked food that was ruined by too much salt. So how should he act? The appropriate conduct when approached to serve as communal prayer leader is as follows: When approached the first time, one should refuse; the second time, one should vacillate like a wick that has just begun to catch a flame but is not yet burning; and the third time, he should stretch his legs and descend before the ark.
תנו רבנן שלשה רובן קשה ומיעוטן יפה ואלו הן שאור ומלח וסרבנות
On this note, the Gemara cites that which the Sages taught in a baraita: There are three things that are harmful in excess but are beneficial when used sparingly. They are: Leavening in dough, salt in a cooked dish and refusal for the sake of propriety.
אמר רב הונא טעה בשלש ראשונות חוזר לראש באמצעיות חוזר לאתה חונן באחרונות חוזר לעבודה
The mishna states that when one replaces the communal prayer leader, he commences from the beginning of the blessing in which the former had erred. However that is not universally true, as Rav Huna said: One who erred in any of the first three blessings he must return to the beginning of the Amida prayer because the first three blessing comprise a single entity. Likewise, if one erred in any of the thirteen middle blessings, he returns to the blessing of: You grace humanity, the first of the middle blessings. If one erred in any of the three final blessings, he must return to the blessing of Temple service, which is the first of the final blessings.
ורב אסי אמר אמצעיות אין להן סדר
And Rav Asi disputes one aspect of Rav Huna’s opinion, as he said: The middle blessings have no set order. If one erred in any of them he may insert it at whatever point he becomes aware of his error.
מתיב רב ששת מהיכן הוא חוזר מתחלת הברכה שטעה זה תיובתא דרב הונא
Rav Sheshet raised an objection based on a baraita: From where does he commence repetition of the Amida prayer? He commences from the beginning of the blessing in which the former had erred. If so, this is a conclusive refutation of Rav Huna’s opinion, as Rav Huna said that if one erred in one of the middle blessings, he returns to the beginning of the middle blessings, not to the beginning of that particular blessing.
אמר לך רב הונא אמצעיות כולהו חדא ברכתא נינהו
Rav Huna could have said to you: The middle blessings are all considered one blessing; commencing from the beginning of the blessing means returning to the beginning of the middle blessings.
אמר רב יהודה לעולם אל ישאל אדם צרכיו לא בשלש ראשונות ולא בשלש אחרונות אלא באמצעיות דאמר רבי חנינא ראשונות דומה לעבד שמסדר שבח לפני רבו אמצעיות דומה לעבד שמבקש פרס מרבו אחרונות דומה לעבד שקבל פרס מרבו ונפטר והולך לו
Rav Yehuda said: There is an additional distinction between the various sections of the Amida prayer: One must never request his own needs in the first three or in the last three blessings; rather, he should do so in the middle blessings. As Rabbi Ḥanina said: During the first three blessings, he is like a servant who arranges praise before his master; during the middle blessings, he is like a servant who requests a reward from his master; during the final three blessings, one is like a servant who already received a reward from his master and is taking his leave and departing.
תנו רבנן מעשה בתלמיד אחד שירד לפני התיבה בפני רבי אליעזר והיה מאריך יותר מדאי אמרו לו תלמידיו כמה ארכן הוא זה אמר להם כלום מאריך יותר ממשה רבינו דכתיב ביה את ארבעים היום ואת ארבעים הלילה וגו׳
Continuing on the subject of prayer, the Sages taught: There was an incident where one student descended to serve as prayer leader before the ark in the presence of Rabbi Eliezer, and he was excessively prolonging his prayer. His students complained and said to him: How long-winded he is. He said to them: Is this student prolonging his prayer any more than Moses our teacher did? As about Moses it is written: “And I prostrated myself before the Lord for the forty days and forty nights that I prostrated myself” (Deuteronomy 9:25). There is no limit to the duration of a prayer.
שוב מעשה בתלמיד אחד שירד לפני התיבה בפני רבי אליעזר והיה מקצר יותר מדאי אמרו לו תלמידיו כמה קצרן הוא זה אמר להם כלום מקצר יותר ממשה רבינו דכתיב אל נא רפא נא לה
There was again an incident where one student descended to serve as prayer leader before the ark in the presence of Rabbi Eliezer, and he was excessively abbreviating his prayer. His students protested and said to him: How brief is his prayer. He said to them: Is he abbreviating his prayer any more than Moses our teacher did? As it is written with regard to the prayer Moses recited imploring God to cure Miriam of her leprosy: “And Moses cried out to the Lord, saying: ‘Please, God, heal her, please’” (Numbers 12:13). This student’s prayer was certainly no briefer than the few words recited by Moses.
אמר רבי יעקב אמר רב חסדא כל המבקש רחמים על חבירו אין צריך להזכיר שמו שנאמר אל נא רפא נא לה ולא קמדכר שמה דמרים:
Having mentioned Moses’ prayer for Miriam, the Gemara cites what Rabbi Ya’akov said that Rav Ḥisda said: Anyone who requests mercy on behalf of another need not mention his name, as it is stated: “Please, God, heal her, please,” and he did not mention Miriam’s name.
תנו רבנן אלו ברכות שאדם שוחה בהן באבות תחלה וסוף בהודאה תחלה וסוף ואם בא לשוח בסוף כל ברכה וברכה ובתחלת כל ברכה וברכה מלמדין אותו שלא ישחה
The Sages taught in a Tosefta: These are the blessings in the Amida prayer in which a person bows: In the first blessing, the blessing of the Patriarchs, one bows at the beginning and the end; in the blessing of thanksgiving, one bows at the beginning and the end; and if one seeks to bow at the end of each and every blessing and at the beginning of each and every blessing, they teach him not to bow so as not to go beyond the ordinance instituted by the Sages.
אמר רבי שמעון בן פזי אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי משום בר קפרא הדיוט כמו שאמרנו
Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said in the name of the tanna bar Kappara: An ordinary person [hedyot], conducts himself as we said; he bows at the beginning and the end of the blessings of Patriarchs and thanksgiving and is admonished if he seeks to bow at the beginning and end of the other blessings.