Abaye makes a rather harsh judgment on someone who is unattentive in prayer (Ber. 34a): Hit him with a hammer until he pays attention!

Is this meant to be taken as Halachah? Or is it just meant to dismiss R' Papa's suggestion that it may be alright to repeat words if you weren't paying attention at first?

This question is part of the Daf Yomi Challenge.


2 Answers 2


The Ben Yehoyada interprets the whole thing as a metaphor: The heart is like metal. If the heart is full of fear, which comes from the element of fire*, a "hammer" is able to affect it (it's well-known that hammers are used in welding).

So this doesn't literally mean to hit him with a hammer. This "hammer" is really something that "moves the ashes" of a person's heart.

*See what the Tanya (ch. 1 ד"ה אך ביאור) writes in the name of Rabbi Chayim Vital.


I think it is meant to give mussar as to the gravity of prayer. put the hammer away please..

  • 3
    I think that that was the obvious other possibility implied by the asker's asking about whether the alternative is true. Answering it thus, then, is merely saying "yes, one of the two possibilities seems right to me" with no source, no reasoning, nothing. This is, in other words, not much of an answer as is. Can you at least edit in some rationale for why you think so?
    – msh210
    Sep 6, 2012 at 1:39
  • well. i think it's obvious. not sure what the asker was thinking in asking if it's halacha. maybe i'm missing something
    – ray
    Sep 6, 2012 at 19:49

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