Thursday, October 11, 2012

Shabbos 9b - 10a - Preparing for Davening "Hakon Likras Elokecha"

The gemara says that according to the opinion that ma'ariv is only a "reshus" and not an obligation, once someone removed their belt to begin eating, we don't require them to put it back on to daven ma'ariv before eating. The gemara asks on that two questions: 1. Is it such a difficulty to put the belt back on that we would allow him to continue his meal without davening? 2. If putting back on the belt is so difficult, let him daven without a belt? Tosafos explains that the gemara ignores the first question (apparently acknowledging that it is too much of a tircha to put back on the belt), but answers the second question by saying that for tefillah we require - הכון לקראת אלקיך ישראל - which means that one is obligated to dress themselves up for davening. Therefore, he couldn't daven without the belt.

There seems to be a machlokes between Rashi and Tosafos regarding what exactly we would have allowed if ma'ariv is just a reshus. Rashi says that we allow him to continue his meal "and daven afterward", implying that even if ma'ariv is a reshus, the tircha of putting the belt on wouldn't exempt him from ma'ariv. We merely allow him to continue his meal provided that he finish in time to daven ma'ariv. However, Tosafos (d.h. l'man d'amar) seems to hold that for a "tzorech" such as retying the belt we would allow him to skip ma'ariv altogether according to the opinion that it is just a reshus (although tosafos would agree that for no reason at all, we wouldn't let him miss ma'ariv). This machlokes seems to influence the question and answer of the gemara. According to Rashi that we are only speaking about delaying ma'ariv until after the meal, the gemara was asking why not just daven in middle of the meal without putting the belt back on? To which the gemara answers that we prefer that he daven later when he can dress properly and fulfill the idea of הכון לקראת אלקיך ישראל. However, Tosafos holds that if ma'ariv is merely a reshus, we would allow him to skip it in order to continue his meal and not have to bother him to get dressed again. According to Tosafos the question is, why not just daven during the meal without wearing the belt? To which the gemara answers, he must fulfill the הכון לקראת אלקיך ישראל. This seems very difficult. According to Rashi the gemara is simply saying that we prefer that he daven after redressing and looking presentable as opposed to davening during the meal. But according to Tosafos the gemara seems to be saying that we would allow him to skip ma'ariv altogether since he can't fulfill the aspect of הכון לקראת אלקיך ישראל. Isn't it better to daven without the fulfillment of הכון לקראת אלקיך ישראל, rather than not davening at all?
Clearly, Tosafos holds that הכון לקראת אלקיך ישראל is not just a method of beautifying the davening by looking more presentable. Rather Tosafos holds that if one is going to daven they are essentially placing themselves before G-d and have an absolute obligation to appear presentable - הכון לקראת אלקיך ישראל. Therefore, it is better to forgo the davening altogether than to stand before Hashem without dressing properly. In other words, הכון is not just a detail in adorning the davening, to which we would say it is better to daven without that adornment than not to daven at all. Tosafos holds that it is the only way one can choose to stand before Hashem, even if it will be at the expense of skipping the entire davening.
The concept can be better illustrated based on the last Brisker Rav in his sefer on parshas breishis. The Brisker Rav takes note of the fact that Adam and Chava tried to hide from Hashem after eating from the eitz ha'da'as. Although Hashem expresses anger at them for being eating, He never accuses them of being so foolish as to think that they can hide from G-d. This implies that the hiding was actually an appropriate behavior under the circumstances. The Brisker Rav explains this based on a Rashi in BRachos 24a that one can read shema with a cloth wrapped around their waste (when the upper part of their body isn't covered), but cannot daven that way. Rashi explains:
דלתפלה צריך הוא להראות את עצמו כעומד לפני המלך ולעמוד באימה, אבל ק"ש אינו מדבר לפני המלך.
Davening is essentially standing before Hashem, and when one does that they need a greater level of tznius and covering. When Adam and Chava ate from the tree and realized their nakedness, they at first were able to just cover the bottom half of their bodies. But when they heard Hashem's sound passing through the garden, they were obligated to hide themselves before G-d's presence to cover the top of their body as well, just as one would when davening to Hashem. This is the same point that Tosafos seems to hold in regard to הכון. It isn't a stipulation of davening, it is a stipulation of standing before Hashem, and therefore worth forgoing the entire davening rather than violating standing befoer Hashem in a disrespectful fashion.

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