INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
QUESTION: The Gemara tells us that one should always include himself with the rest of the people in his prayers; his prayers should always be in the plural ("*our* G-d, help us..."), so that his prayers will be more favorable to Hash-m. Why, then, are some of our prayers, such as Birkas ha'Mapil (Berachos 60b), said in the singular form?
ANSWER: Perhaps the blessing of ha'Mapil is different since it begins with praises to Hash-m for that which He gives a person. Praise may be said in the singular. Although the blessing continues with the request that Hash-m put us safely to rest for the night, we continue in the singular, since the blessing was already begun in the singular. In contrast, the blessing of Tefilas ha'Derech begins immediately with requests, so it may be said in the plural. (The blessing of ha'Ma'avir Sheinah in the morning also begins with praise in the singular, but it continues with requests in the plural. The reason for this is that the requests are not related to the praise with which the blessing opened, so they cannot be viewed as a genuine continuation.) (M. KORNFELD)
The Gemara relates that when Rebbi Yirmeyah looked too happy, Rebbi Zeira tried to somber him by mentioning the virtues of melancholy. This "simple" incident in their lives actually reflects different approaches to life.
The CHAVOS YAIR (#152, cited at the end of Sefer Chafetz Chayim) suggests that Rebbi Zeira and Rebbi Yirmeyah each had a very different path in Avodas Hash-m. They continually debated whether abstinence is commendable or forbidden.
Rebbi Zeira understood fasting and self-affliction as the correct way to achieve Kedushah. He would fast long periods and afflict himself with various forms of suffering to test his total devotion to Hash-m (Bava Metzia 85a).
Rebbi Yirmeyah, on the other hand, was generally jolly. He ruled like those who maintained that a Nazir is called a Chotei (Nedarim 10a) and that it is forbidden for a person to afflict himself beyond the call of the Torah.
The Gemara in Nidah (23a; see Insights there) tells how Rebbi Yirmeyah, in accordance with his path in Avodas Hash-m, would try and break Rebbi Zeira's somberness since he held that this was an incorrect path in Avodas Hash-m. In our Gemara, Rebbi Zeira tried -- unsuccessfully -- to cool Rebbi Yirmeyah's joyfulness, in accordance with his own path in Avodas Hash-m.