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THE INTELLECTUAL OBLIGATION TO PRAY

בס”ד


I No Specific Biblical Requirement Regarding Frequency or Format of Prayer

  1. Rambam, Laws of Prayer 1:1
It is a positive Torah commandment to pray every day, as [Exodus 23:25] states: “You shall serve G-d, your L-rd.” Tradition teaches us that this service is prayer, as [Deuteronomy 11:13] states: “And serve Him with all your heart” and our Sages said: Which is the service of the heart? This is prayer.
The number of prayers is not prescribed in the Torah, nor does it prescribe a specific formula for prayer. Also, according to Torah law, there are no fixed times for prayers.
מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּכָל יוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר )שמות כג כה( ״וַעֲבַדְתֶּם אֵת ה׳‎ אֱלֹהֵיכֶם״. מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁעֲבוֹדָה זוֹ הִיא תְּפִלָּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר )דברים יא יג (״וּלְעָבְדוֹ בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם״ אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אֵי זוֹ הִיא עֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב זוֹ תְּפִלָּה. וְאֵין מִנְיַן הַתְּפִלּוֹת מִן הַתּוֹרָה. וְאֵין מִשְׁנֶה הַתְּפִלָּה הַזֹּאת מִן הַתּוֹרָה. וְאֵין לַתְּפִלָּה זְמַן קָבוּעַ מִן הַתּוֹרָה:

2. Kesef Mishnah, loc. cit.

…nor does it prescribe a specific formula for prayer: That is to say, the format of prayer itself…rather, [from the standpoint of the Written Torah], one would pray in a spontaneous and free manner.ואין משנה התפלה הזאת מן התורה. כלומר מטבע התפלה הזאת והוא מלשון ושננתם אלא באי זה נוסח שיזדמן לאדם בו.

II Prayer Guidelines for Bnei Noach

3. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim 2:25

As to whether a Ben Noach is obligated in prayer, clearly, he is not, because prayer is not enumerated among the mitzvot that Bnei Noach were commanded, as listed in TB Sanhedrin 56a, nor is it mentioned by the Rambam in Chapter 9 of the Laws of Kings, where he lists the mitzvot that Bnei Noach are required to perform.   Regarding whether a Ben Noach has fulfilled a mitzvah when he or she prays to the Blessed L-rd, it appears as such, as it is expressed in the verse (Isaiah 56:7), “for My House will be a house of prayer for all of the peoples”, and, as Rashi explains there, “and not only for Israel alone, but for gerim as well”. If, by “gerim”, Rashi implies people who have converted, then it would mean that the Temple is only for Israel (since converts are considered “Israel”). Therefore, the verse must be referring to non-Jews who have not converted but are fulfilling the commandments incumbent upon Bnei Noach. If so, here is explicit proof that even though they are exempt from the commandment to pray, when they do pray, they earn the reward of a mitzvah.   )Regarding public prayer, e.g., in schools), if the nusach (text) was composed by priests, even if there is not even a hint to their faith, one should not say it, whether by himself or with non-Jews, since the text likely accords with their faith.   A Ben Noach, who is considered as “one who is not commanded but nevertheless performs a mitzvah” when he or she prays, if he or she does so in thought but does not verbalize the prayer (which would prevent a Jew from fulfilling the mitzvah or prayer), he or she does not receive reward.לעניין בן נח אם מחוייב בתפילה פשוט שאינו מחוייב, דאינו נמנו במצות דנצטוו בני נח בסנהדרין נ”ו/ב וכן לא הוזכר ברמב”ם פ”ט מהלכות מלכים שחושב מצות שנצטוו בני נח.         לעניין אם יש לו מצוה כשמתפלל להשי”ת נראה שיש לו כמפורש בקרא בישעיה (נ”ו/ז’) כי בתי בית תפילה לכל העמים  ופירש”י שם ולא לישראל לבדם, ואם הוא לגרים שהתגיירו הא הם כישראל ממש וזה היה נקרא לישראל לבדם לכן ברור שקאי גם לבני נכר שלא נתגיירו ומקיימים  רק מצות שהייבין בני נח, וא”כ הרי הוא כמפורש שאף שפטורין מתפילה מ”מ כשמתפללין להשי”ת תעושין מצוה.                     אם ניסח התפילה חברו כומרים שאף שאין בה שום רמז ניר לאמונתם אין לישראל לאומרה אף בעצמו וכ”כ עם הנכרי דממילא הוי נוסח זה לאמונתם.       בבן נח שיש לו שכר כאינו מצווה ועושה כשמתפלל איך הוא כשמתפלל בהרהור שישראל אינו יוצא כו’ פשוט שכיון שאינו עושה כדין המצוה גם בן נח לא יקבל שום שכר.

III Intellectual Obligation: Prayer and Blessings

4. TB Tractate Sotah 10a/b

“And he shall plant [vayitta] the tents of his palace between the seas and the beauteous holy mountain; and he shall come to his end, and none shall help him” (Daniel 11:45), indicating that the word vayitta, and he planted, is also used to indicate pitching tents. The verse there states: “And he planted an eshel in Beersheba, and called there [vayyikra] on the name of the L-rd, the Everlasting G-d” (Genesis 21:33). Reish Lakish said: Do not read this word literally as vayyikra,” and he called, but rather as vayyakri, and he caused others to call. This teaches that Abraham our forefather caused the name of the Holy One, Blessed be He, to be called out in the mouth of all passersby. How so? After the guests of Abraham ate and drank, they arose to bless him. He said to them: But did you eat from what is mine? Rather, you ate from the food of the G-d of the world. Therefore, you should thank and praise and bless the One Who spoke and the world was created. In this way, Abraham caused everyone to call out to G-d.״וַיִּטַּע אׇהֳלֵי אַפַּדְנוֹ וְגוֹ׳״. ״וַיִּקְרָא שָׁם בְּשֵׁם ה׳ אֵל עוֹלָם״. אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: אַל תִּיקְרֵי ״וַיִּקְרָא״, אֶלָּא ״וַיַּקְרִיא״. מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהִקְרִיא אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ לִשְׁמוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּפֶה כׇּל עוֹבֵר וָשָׁב. כֵּיצַד? לְאַחַר שֶׁאָכְלוּ וְשָׁתוּ, עָמְדוּ לְבָרְכוֹ. אָמַר לָהֶם: וְכִי מִשֶּׁלִּי אֲכַלְתֶּם? מִשֶּׁל אֱלֹהֵי עוֹלָם אֲכַלְתֶּם! הוֹדוּ וְשַׁבְּחוּ וּבָרְכוּ לְמִי שֶׁאָמַר וְהָיָה הָעוֹלָם.

5. Genesis 39:2

And his master saw that the L-rd was with him, and that the L-rd made all that he did to prosper in his hand.וַיִּמְצָ֨א יוֹסֵ֥ף חֵ֛ן בְּעֵינָ֖יו וַיְשָׁ֣רֶת אֹת֑וֹ וַיַּפְקִדֵ֙הוּ֙ עַל־בֵּית֔וֹ וְכָל־יֶשׁ־ל֖וֹ נָתַ֥ן בְּיָדֽוֹ׃

6. Rashi, loc. cit.

that the L-rd was with him: for the Name of Heaven was constantly on his lips.כי ה’ אתו. שֵׁם שָׁמַיִם שָׁגוּר בְּפִיו

7. TB Tractate Berachot 35a

Simple logic: it is forbidden to enjoy the benefits of this world without making a blessing.סְבָרָא הוּא: אָסוּר לוֹ לָאָדָם שֶׁיֵּהָנֶה מִן הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה בְּלֹא בְּרָכָה

8. Rashi, loc. cit.

The logic is, if one derives benefit from the world, he or she must thank the One who created that benefit.סברא הוא דכיון דנהנה צריך להודות למי שבראם

By Rabbi Tani Burton

 

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