Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Fixing Time/Place Gives Glory to the Activity; Not the Other Way Around

The topic of having a makom kavu'a for t'fila and what its all about came up this morning.  The generally heard explanation is that it helps to minimize distractions (although even your fingerprints seem to take on a whole knew level of fascination during shmone esrei...). Rabeinu Yona, however, has a different p'shat: fixing a place to daven gives kavod and chashivus to t'fila.  Rabeinu Yona takes this idea so far as to say that the concept of being kovei'a makom la'tifila is only relevant at home.  Once someone has gone to shul, says Rabeinu Yona, he has already demonstrated that t'fila is important.  But when he needs to daven at home, it requires fixing a place in the house for davening to demonstrated the importance.

The importance of "k'vi'us" (consistency) runs throughout halacha.  "kovei'a itim la'torah", "kovei'a makom la't'filah", "kovei'a s'uda l'shabbos v'yom tov".  In each case the matter being fixed (time, place, meal) is not important in and of itself, rather it is that fixing time/place/meal shows the importance of the matter for which it is being fixed: torah, t'fila, shabbos v'yom tov.

Unfortunately, things sometimes get turned upside down; the activity becomes an excuse to claim rights to the place/time/meal.  "I am davening, so get out of my place."  "It is Shabbos, so I can eat and drink (and drink) as much as I want."  And those two examples have a source in halacha.  (Though I know of no source for requiring closer than "dalad amos"; about six feet.) There are other cases where it is just stam "because its mine"; not out of meanness, just thoughtlessness.  I usually eat the Shalos S'udos meal with my wife.  This week she is out of town; I will probably still each the shalos s'udos meal at home because it will be too hard to figure out where I could sit.  Everyone has their seats picked out and are almost more makpid on those seats than their shtender.  I realize it is a great time to visit with friends, but it's also a great time to practice real hachnasa orchim -- bringing a guest from the outside in.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…