Yehuda Eisenberg
A Curriculum in Tefilah

A. In lower grades

(Before proceeding to this topic it would be fitting to decorate the room with pictures of Yerushalayim and Har haBayit.)

In which direction do we pray? On which side of the synagogue is the holy ark? Why specifically on the eastern side? Because the Land of Israel is in that direction! Correct. And why praticularly toward the Land of Israel? Why not toward Washington? Because the Land of Israel is Our land, and because in Israel there is one city like no other in the world. What city? Yerushalayim, right. And what is there in Yerusahlayim? What once stood in Yerushalayim? Bait haMikdash, the place where the Kohanim served G-d. And in the Temple there was a small room called the "Kodesh haKodashim" and there, too was a holy ark, and in the ark were the Shney Luchot haBerit. In this direction we pray - toward Israel, Yerushalayim, Bait haMikdash and Kodesh haKodashim.

B. In intermediate grades

In the instruction of this topic in the intermediate grades, we are interested in transmitting to the students knowledge and feeling about the central position of the Land of Israel in our tefilah.

The tefilah of Shlomo at the dedication of the Temple (Mlachim I, 8) is a convenient starting point for instruction. In this tefilah the central place of Israel and Yerushalayim in our tefilah and in the tie between man and G-d is emphasized. The students have not yet learned Sefer Mlachim but they know about the Bait haMikdash and after a short introduction, the teacher will be able to use several verses from the tefilah of Shlomo for further clarification of the issues.

For example, passuk 30:

"veshamata el t'chinat avdecha ve'amcha Yisrael asher yitpalelu el hamoakom ha'ze, ve'ata tishma el mekom shivtecha el hashamayim, veshamata ve'salachta"

And so, too, psukim 46-49:

"Ki yachte'u lach, ki ain adam asher lo yecheta, v'anafta bam unetatam lifney oyev, v'shavum shovaihem el eretz oyev, rechoka oh kerova. V'heshivu el libam b'eretz asher nishbu sham, v'shavu v'hitchanenu elaicha b'eretz shovaihem lemor: Chatanu v'he'evainu rashanu. V'shavu elaicha bechol levavam u'vechol nafsham b'eretz oyvaihem asher shavu otam, v'hitpalelu elaicha derech artzam asher natata la'avotam, ha'ir asher bacharta v'habayit asher banita lishmecha - v'shamata hashamayim m'chon shivtecha..."

With the help of the tefilah of Shlomo, it is possible to examine the following components:

1. Bait haMikdash is the site of the presence of the Sh'china.

2. Hatefilah, at a time of gladness, or one of sorrow, is in the direction of the Bait haMikdash.

3. Hatefilah from the lands of exile must pass via Israel - Yerushalayim - the Temple.

"Derech artzam asher natata l'avotam, ha'ir asher bacharta, v'habayit asher banita lesh'mecha".

After clarification of this matter, we are able to go on to an analysis of various tefilot in which the Land of Israel appears as the focal point of the life and tefilah of the Nation of Israel.

The students can be asked to search by themselves for tefilot that pertain to Yerushalayim. We can direct them to the ________ to simplify and give direction to the ensuing considerations.

The students will find the blessings that deal expressly with the Land of Israel: "V'Kabtzenu yachad me'arba kanfot ha'aretz" - Teka; "V'liYerushalayim" - the rebuilding of Yerushalayim; "et tzemach David" - the return of the kingdom of the House of David; "re'tze" - the renewal of services in the Temple and the return of the Avoda to Zion. To this we can add the blessing "Barech Alainu". In this blessing there is no direct mention of Israel, but it is to be observed that we pray for rain according to the needs of the Land of Israe! In America rain falls and is needed for successful agriculture during the summer, yet we pray "v'ten tal u'matar" only in the winter. In Israel rain is essential during the winter months, whereas during the summer there is no precipitation, nor any need for it.

From an analysis of Sh'monne aisre' we can continue to Birkat haMazon.

For what are we giving thanks to G-d in the blessing "Nodde"? The first thankoffering is for "Eretz chemda tova u'rechava" and the last

"al hakol haShem elokainu anachnu modim lach...kakatuv... u'verachta et haShem elokaicha al ha'aretz hatova asher natan lach. Baruch ata haShem al ha'aretz v'al hamazon".

The thankofferings for the Land encompass all other thanksgiving. The thankofferings for the redemption from Egypt, B'rit Milah", the Torah, our nourishment - all these are begun and end with a blessing for the good and spacious land.

The next blessing is on Yerushalayim. If the blessings of Sh'monne aisre' that relate to Israel were studied previously, an echo of those blessings may be found herein:

Sh'monne aisre' Birkat hamazon
V'liYerushalayim V'al Yerushalayim ircha v'al Zion mishkan kevodecha
Et tzemach David V'al malchut bait David meshichecha
Retze (v'hashev et ha'avodah) V'al habayit hagadol v'hakadosh shenikra shimcha alav

We include in the Grace a summary of the blessings of Sh'monne aisre', on the same topics and in the same order.

We will now give some thought to the importance of the b'rachot and the order of their appearance.

Firstly, we request the rebuilding of Yerushalayim. As long as Yerushalayim is not rebuilt and G-d does not dwell in it, there is no possibility of the restoration of the kingdom of the House of David. The first appeal is that Yerushalayim be rebuilt, one final, everlasting reconstruction, and in it the Throne of David be prepared. The Throne is ready and the hour has come for the next request - the sprouting of David, the ray of deliverance. After the refounding of the kingdom of the House of David, we have reached the final and greatest entreaty. We appeal for "haBayit hagadol v'hakadosh shenikra shimcha alav".

Now, let us arrange our petitions pertaining to Israel in one complete list:

1. Eretz Yisrael "V'Kabtzainu yachad me'arba kanfot ha'aretz"; "al shehinchalta la'avotainu eretz chemda tova u'rechava";

2. Binyan Yerushalayim "V'liYerushalayim ircha berachamim tashuv"; "Rachem... al Yerushalayim ircha v'al Zion mishkan kevodech";

3. Malchut Bait David "Et tzemach David avdecha tatzmi'ach"; "V'al malchut Bait David meshichecha";

4. Bait haMikdash "V'hashev et ha'avoda lidvir baitecha"; "V'al haBayit hagadol v'hakadosh shenikra shimcha alav".

The order is familiar to us - it is exactly that which we found in th tefilah of Shlomo! (Shlomo does not speak of the tefilah for the renewal of the kingdom of the House of David because that kingdom is in existence. His tefilah concentrates upon that for which the exiles from the Land will pray).

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