POINT BY POINT OUTLINE
THE NEFF FAMILY MASECHES BERACHOS
prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
1) LEADING THE PRAYER
(a) (Mishnah): (Saying "good people will bless You," is the way of heretics. Some delete this from the text.)
(b) If the Shali'ach Tzibur errs, someone else takes his place. The latter should not decline to do so at this time.
(c) The latter begins from the beginning of the blessing in which the first erred.
(d) The Shali'ach Tzibur does not answer "Amen" after Birkas Kohanim, lest he get confused. (We assume that he prays by heart, without a Sidur);
1. If he is the only Kohen, he does not recite Birkas Kohanim.
2. If he is sure that he can recite Birkas Kohanim and resume the prayer, he may do so.
(e) (Gemara - Beraisa): If one is asked to lead the prayer, he should [consider himself unworthy, and] decline;
1. If he does not decline, he is like a cooked food to which salt was not added. If he declines too much, he is like a food that was ruined due to too much salt;
2. Rather, the first time [he is asked] he should decline. The second time he should make movements like one about to get up. The third time, he should go.
(f) (Beraisa): There are three things for which a large amount is bad, but a small amount is good -- yeast (to ferment dough), salt, and refusal.
2) THE THREE PARTS OF TEFILAH
(a) (Rav Huna): If one erred in one of the first three Berachos, he must return to the beginning of Shemoneh Esreh;
1. If he erred in one of the middle Berachos, he returns to Chonen ha'Da'as (the first of the middle Berachos). If one erred in one of the last three Berachos, he returns to Avodah (the first of the last three).
(b) (R. Asi): We are not concerned for the order of the middle Berachos. (If one was skipped, it can be said out of place.)
(c) Question (Rav Sheshes, against Rav Huna - Mishnah): The latter begins from the beginning of the Berachah in which the first erred.
(d) Answer: The middle Berachos are all considered like one. (Therefore, "the beginning" refers to Chonen ha'Da'as.)
(e) (Rav Yehudah): One may not request his needs in the first three or last three Berachos, only in the middle Berachos.
1. (R. Chanina): In the first three Berachos, one is like a slave recounting the praise of his Master;
2. In the middle Berachos, he is like a slave requesting remuneration from his Master;
3. In the last three Berachos, he is like a slave thanking his Master for giving to him, and he departs.
(f) (Beraisa): A case occurred in which a Talmid leading the prayer in front of R. Eliezer was praying at length.
1. The other Talmidim: He is taking too long!
2. R. Eliezer: This is not as long as Moshe, who prayed for forty days and nights -- "Arba'im ha'Yom v'Es Arba'im ha'Lailah"!
3. A different time, a Talmid leading the prayer in front of R. Eliezer was praying quickly.
4. The other Talmidim: He is praying too quickly!
5. R. Eliezer: This is not as short as Moshe (who said only five words in his prayer for Miriam) -- "Kel Na Refa Na Lah"!
(g) (R. Yakov): One who requests mercy for someone else need not mention the latter's name. We find that Moshe did not mention Miriam's name.
3) BOWING DURING PRAYER
(a) (Beraisa): One bows in the following Berachos:
1. In the beginning and end of Avos (the first blessing), and in the beginning and end of Modim.
(b) If one wants to bow in the beginning or end of other Berachos, we tell him not to.
(c) (R. Shimon ben Pazi citing R. Yehoshua ben Levi): That is the law for a commoner. A Kohen Gadol bows at the end of each blessing. The king bows at the beginning and end of each blessing.
(d) (R. Yitzchak bar Nachmani citing R. Yehoshua ben Levi): The Beraisa teaches about a commoner. A Kohen Gadol bows in the beginning (Gra - and end) of each blessing. The king bows in the beginning and does not straighten up (until the end) -- "va'Yhi k'Chalos Shlomo Lehispalel... Kam mi'Lifnei Mizbach Hash-m."
(e) (Beraisa): "Kidah" refers to bowing and putting one's face on the ground -- "va'Tikod Bas Sheva Apayim Eretz";
1. "Kri'ah" is bending the knees -- "mi'Kero'a Al Birkav";
2. "Hishtachavah" is prostrating on the hands and feet -- "Lehishtachavos Lecha Artzah."
(f) (R. Chiya brei d'Rav Huna): I saw Abaye and Rava lean to the side (during Nefilas Apayim, i.e. Tachanun).
(g) (Beraisa #1): It is praiseworthy to bow during Hoda'ah (Modim).
(h) Contradiction (Beraisa #2): It is contemptible.
(i) Resolution: It is praiseworthy to bow at the beginning of Modim. It is contemptible to bow at the end.
(j) Rava bowed at the beginning and end of Modim.
1. Rabanan: Why did you do so? (A Beraisa on 34a says that we bow in the beginning and end of Modim! Rashba deletes "beginning and end" from the text of that Beraisa. Ra'avad - that refers to Modim in Shemoneh Esreh. Here we discuss "Modim d'Rabanan," which the congregation says when the Shali'ach Tzibur says Modim.)
2. Rava: I saw Rav Nachman and Rav Sheshes do so.
(k) Question (Beraisa #2): It is contemptible to bow during Hoda'ah.
(l) Answer: There, "Hoda'ah" refers to Hallel.
(m) Question (Beraisa #3): It is contemptible to bow during Hoda'ah or during the Hoda'ah of Hallel.
(n) Answer: There, "Hoda'ah" refers to the second blessing of Birkas ha'Mazon.
4) A MISTAKE IN PRAYER
(a) (Mishnah): If one erred in his Shemoneh Esreh, it is a bad sign for him;
(b) If a Shali'ach Tzibur erred in his Shemoneh Esreh, it is a bad sign for the congregation, for one's Shali'ach is like himself.
(c) R. Chanina ben Dosa used to pray for sick people. He would say who will live and who will not.
1. Talmidim: How do you know who will live?
2. R. Chanina: If my prayer flows smoothly, I know that it is accepted. If not, I know that it is not accepted.
(d) Version #1 (Gemara) Question: Where did the person err?
(e) Answer (R. Chiya): He erred in Avos.
(f) Version #2 (Beraisa): One who prays must concentrate in all the Berachos. If he cannot do this, he should concentrate in one.
(g) Question: In which blessing should he concentrate?
(h) Answer (R. Chiya): He should concentrate in Avos.
5) FUTURE REWARD
(a) (Mishnah): R. Chanina ben Dosa... (If my Shemoneh Esreh flows smoothly, I know that it is accepted.)
(b) Question: What is the source of this?
(c) Answer (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): "Borei Niv Sefasayim (when the words flows smoothly) Shalom Shalom la'Rachok vela'Karov u'Refasiv."
(d) (R. Chiya bar Aba): All prophetic visions of future reward were only for one who marries off his daughter to a Talmid Chacham, or does business on behalf of a Talmid Chacham, or lets a Talmid Chacham benefit from his possessions;
1. No prophet ever had a vision of the reward in the World to Come for a Talmid Chacham -- "Ayin Lo Ra'asah Elokim Zulasecha Ya'aseh li'Mechakeh Lo."
(e) (R. Chiya bar Aba): All prophecies of future reward were only for the time of Mashi'ach, but no prophet ever saw the reward in the World to Come -- "Ayin Lo Ra'asah...."
(f) This argues with Shmuel;
1. (Shmuel): The only difference between this world and the time of Mashi'ach is that the kingdoms will cease to rule over Yisrael -- "Ki Lo Yechdal Evyon mi'Kerev ha'Aretz." (There will still be poor people.)
(g) (R. Chiya bar Aba citing R. Yochanan): Prophets prophesized about the reward awaiting Ba'alei Teshuvah, but the reward for Tzadikim who never sinned is "Ayin Lo Ra'asah..."
(h) He argues with R. Avahu;
1. (R. Avahu): Ba'alei Teshuvah have a greater share in the World to Come than Tzadikim who never sinned. "Shalom Shalom la'Rachok vela'Karov" -- the Rachok (far) comes before the near;
i. "Far" is one who was far from Hash-m (but repented). "Near" is one who was always close.
2. R. Yochanan explains that "far" is one who was always far from sin. "Near" is one who was close to sin, and distanced himself.
(i) Question: What does "Ayin Lo Ra'asah..." mean?
(j) Answer #1 (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): This is wine that has been guarded in the grape since the six days of creation (Chidushei Torah that were never revealed to any person).
(k) Answer #2 (R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): This is Eden. No created being ever saw it.
(l) Question: Where was Adam ha'Rishon?
(m) Answer: He was in Gan Eden.
(n) Suggestion: Perhaps this is Eden itself!
(o) Rejection: "V'Nahar Yotzei me'Eden Lehashkos Es ha'Gan."
6) R. CHANINA'S POWER OF PRAYER
(a) (Beraisa): A case occurred in which R. Gamliel's son fell sick. He sent two Chachamim to R. Chanina ben Dosa to ask him to pray for him. When R. Chanina saw them coming, he went to the upper story and prayed. He came down and told them that the fever had abated.
1. Chachamim: Are you a prophet?
2. R. Chanina: I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. I have a tradition that if my Shemoneh Esreh flows smoothly, it was accepted. If not, it was not accepted.
(b) The Chachamim wrote down what time it was. They returned to R. Gamliel, who said that this was exactly when the fever abated.
(c) When R. Chanina ben Dosa went to learn from R. Yochanan ben Zakai, R. Yochanan's son fell sick. He asked R. Chanina to pray for him. R. Chanina put his head between his knees, and the son recovered.
1. R. Yochanan: I could put my head between my knees all day [and pray], and I would not be answered!
2. His wife: Is R. Chanina (your Talmid) greater than you?!
3. R. Yochanan: No. Rather, he is like a slave in front of the king (he enters wherever he wants). I am like a noble in front of the king. (He does not enter so often.)
(d) (R. Chiya bar Aba): One should pray in a house with windows -- "v'Chavin Pesichan Lei...."
(e) (Rav Kahana): One who prays in a valley is brazen. (There is less fear of Hash-m in an open place.)
(f) (Rav Kahana): One who publicizes his sins is brazen -- "Ashrei Nesuy Pesha Kesuy Chata'ah."