“Excessive sorrow laughs. Excessive joy weeps.”

–William Blake

Daf 30. Summary. The traveler’s prayer should be said with the congregation (not alone).

When reciting Amida stand facing Jerusalem. A blind person should focus his heart. There are directions for how to stand when praying in various places– the Diaspora, Israel, Jerusalem, in the Temple, in the Holy of Holies, etc. Rabbis disagree on whether priority should be given to praying where one can stand or praying when one can juxtapose redemption and prayer.

Mishnah. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya requires the “additional prayer” only in a city that can muster a quorum of ten. The rabbis say the quorum is unnecessary. Elazar ben Azarya also says that individuals are exempt if there is a quorum.

Gemara. The individual is not exempt if there is no quorum. Protocol is presented on when one must insert the prayer mentioning the New Moon if one has forgotten to recite it in its proper place.

Perek V. Mishnah. “One may only stand and begin to pray from an approach of gravity and submission.”

Gemara. The gemara seeks the source of the mishnah. Rabbi Elazar says it derives from Hannah’s prayer. Rabbi Yosei says it derives from David. Rav Nachman bar Yitzhak says it derives from Psalms 2:11– “Serve the Lord in fear and rejoice with trembling.” The gemara seeks to understand what it is to rejoice with trembling. It suggests that there is danger in “excessive joy.”


    ” It’s hard, an’ hard it’s to be blind. 
     “Lord, it’s hard, it’s hard to be blind. 
    ” If I could see, how happy I would be. 
     “Nobody cares about me.”
Rev. Gary Davis

This daf opens with the ruling that a prayer requires a quorum but then acknowledges that locating a quorum is a common problem. Is there a parallel with one who cannot find a quorum and one who is blind? A ruling is introduced that one should face Jerusalem when one prays, but absent the stars or sun to orient oneself, one is no more competent to determine the direction than a blind person. Ultimately, like the blind person, all one can do is focus one’s heart. Perek V will go to great lengths to determine exactly how one might do that.

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