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The Rambam in Hilchos Tefilah 1:1-3 describes the Biblical mitzvah of prayer. In Halacha 2 he writes:

ומגיד שבחו של הקדוש ברוך הוא, ואחר כך שואל צרכיו שהוא צריך להן בבקשה ובתחינה, ואחר כך נותן שבח והודיה לה' על הטובה שהשפיע לו

He tells of Hashem's praises, and afterwards asks for his needs in requests and supplications, and after that gives praise and thanks to Hashem for the good that He has bestowed upon him

Now, it happens to be that this Biblical 3-tiered structure is paralleled in our Rabbinically instituted prayers, which begin with praises, follow with requests, and finish with thanks. But, where did the Rambam get that this exists in the Biblical structure of prayer? The entire source of the Biblical mitzvah is, as the Rambam says in Halacha 1, just the one verse of "ועבדתם, את ה' אלוהיכם" - "And you shall serve Hashem your G-d" (Shemos 23:25). How did the Rambam derive this 3-part formation of prayer?

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    IIRC, the Briskers infer from the Rambam (1:3) that praying towards the mikdash is biblical, too. – Fred Feb 2 '15 at 4:48
  • @Fred biblical meaning they say there is a drasha for that? Or biblical meaning Moshe Rabeinu did it so that's called biblical? And do they have a source? Sorry to harp on your innocent comment but i got hung up recently on the sugya of libo limaala vi'einav limate and i wonder if you might have some leads for me. – user6591 Feb 2 '15 at 9:28
  • @user6591, see the Kesef Mishna on the Rambam, he brings a drasha from the Sifri for it. – Yishai Feb 2 '15 at 14:02
  • @Yishai Thank you. Interesting. But in chapter 5 halacha 3 it is presented differently. – user6591 Feb 2 '15 at 14:37
  • @user6591 Thanks to Yishai for pointing that out; the Kesef Mishneh cites the Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvos (Mitzvas Asei 5: ואמרו עבדוהו בתורתו ועבדוהו במקדשו רוצה לומר הכוון אליו להתפלל שם). The Rambam in 5:3 is based on B'rachos 30a, which may suggest that praying towards the mikdash is not m'akeiv if you feel you are standing before HaShem. However, maybe they are the same inyan, with the former being an ideal form of the latter (see Chidushei R' Chaim, Hil. T'fila 4:1, who says that the latter is a fundamental aspect of the מעשה מצוה - otherwise it's not תפילה at all). – Fred Feb 2 '15 at 21:17
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The first two are explicitly in the Talmud (Brachos 32a at the bottom), as pointed out by many commentaries on the Rambam. However, the third is often questioned, either left without a source (the Lechem Mishna) or claimed to be logical (the Maaseh Rokeah).

The Or Sameach on the Rambam however finds that this is explicitly sourced in the Sifri in Zos HaBracha and in a Tosefta in Munachos (where all three components are essential, and since the Rambam holds the obligation is biblical, thus the component requirements are biblical as well). Kovetz Al Yad HaChazakah spells out the biblical source as quoted in the Yalkut: the structure of Moshe Rabbeinu's blessings in Zos HaBracha, 33:5 is the praise, followed by the requests, and concluded with the thanks in 33:26.

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