Is Prayer a Supplication or a Replacement for Sacrificial Offerings?

Daf 26. Summary. If you must keep a Torah scroll in your bedroom, you must erect a partition between it and your bed before having marital relations with your wife.

Mishnah. There are purity rules regarding physical phenomenon that the Sages say require ritual immersion prior to prayer. Rabbi Yehuda says that immersion is unnecessary.

Gemara. The daf attempts to understand Rav Yehuda’s teaching.

Perek IV. Mishnah. The Sages say morning prayer may be recited until noon; Rav Yehuda says until four hours after sunrise. The Sages say the afternoon prayer may be recited until evening; Rav Yehuda says until the middle of the afternoon. The Sages say the “additional prayer” may be recited all day; Rav Yehuda says only until seven hours after sunrise.

Gemara. The most scrupulous recite Shema at sunrise so that they will begin Amida  immediately after sunrise. Less scrupulous people may pray later, but those who pray past the appointed time lose a portion of their “reward.” The gemara considers whether prayer replaces sacrifice or is a supplication; whether unintentionally omitted prayers may be recited past their time.

Rabbi Yossi holds that prayers were instituted by the patriarchs. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi holds that prayers were based on the daily offerings. Perhaps the Patriarchs instituted prayer and the Sages set the times based on the offerings. Perhaps there are also formulas that resolve the contradiction between the Sages and Rav Yehuda.

Comment. Rav Yehuda emerges as a contrarian in this daf, but is he an agent of leniency or stringency? In Perek III he appears to be lenient in suggesting that immersion is unnecessary, but the ruling may not be so simple since it is possible that immersion for him is not necessary because it is premature and would thus be ineffective. In Perek IV he appears to be more stringent than the Sages who are themselves more stringent than Rabban Gamliel (see Daf 2). However, the apparent contradictions and uncertainty surrounding the provenance of prayer seem here to be negotiated with less combativeness and more of a yearning for reconciliation than in earlier Pereks.

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One Response to Is Prayer a Supplication or a Replacement for Sacrificial Offerings?

  1. Charles Hollander says:

    The ascription of the three Amidas to the three patriarchs is resonant with inner meaning: Abraham rose early in the morning, as he often did (Gen. 22 as well, the Akeda); special Isaac is in the middle of the day, far from night, he who never left Eretz Israel; and Jacob the schemer, the man of the night, has the prayer of the dark times. I am especially enamored of the prooftext, Gen. 28:11, one of my favorite verses. Consider Gen. 28:10 together with the first two words of verse 11: And Jacob set out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came upon the place…. Note the pointing, bamakom, not b’makom–the place, not a place. With just those words, we expect that he’s reached Haran, but the next words clear it up, “and stopped there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place.” Thus “the place” occurs twice more in the verse. (I’m not sure how Biblical the usage of “ha Makom” for God is, but it’s bound to be in the back of our minds.) “Vayifga” in Brown-Driver-Briggs is “meet, light upon, encounter,” as well as a few instances of “encounter (with request), entreat,” the usage the Talmud relies upon to give Jacob Maariv. I am enthused with Jacob hitting on this place, where God is and he does not know it, as he hit upon so many other things in his life. Israel indeed.

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