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Thought for the Day: Causing Problems But Still Doing Your Job

The gemara (brachos 28a) brings two opinions from R' Yochanan.
  1. One who delays davening musaf is a wanton sinner (poshei'a).
  2. Faced with needing to daven both mincha and musaf, one should first daven mincha and then daven musaf.
Rashi explains the second opinion is because since one has already wantonly sinned by delaying musaf, better to daven mincha right away rather than become a wanton sinner a second time because of delaying mincha.  The question is, where is the sin?  Everyone agrees that the person has fulfilled his obligation to daven musaf (and mincha).  First a story.

I was riding my bicycle to work this morning and my left contact was really bothering me.  Apparently an eyelash or tiny bit of dust had gotten stuck under the contact.  I had absolutely no intention of removing the contact, of course; I needed it to see, after all!  So the contact was doing it job very well.  It was also causing me a fair amount of grief.

So R' Yochanan is not saying that the person would, chas v'shalom, be better off just disregarindg prayer all together.  He is simply pointing out that when a person delays davening musaf, he is a wantonly disregarding "zrizim makdimim l'mitzvos" -- being alert to do Ratzon HaShem with enthusiasm.  On the other hand, he is still serving HaShem... just also (according to R' Yochanan) causing a fair amount of irritation.  Generally speaking, I think it is good counsel to strive not to irritate HaShem.  I'm just saying.

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