Why is it Chabad's minhag to put their head down when saying "L'david" when the Zohar says its dangerous to "fall on ones face" when reciting it?

  • 2
    I like the question, just is it possible to quote where the Zohar is and whether it's dangerous for the person saying Tachanun or his enemies? – yosefkorn Feb 12 '19 at 21:11
  • Why ask about chabad specifically? Who does not put their head down during tachanun? – Dude Feb 14 '19 at 12:55
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    @Dude Sephardim don't put their head down and while Minhag Ashkenaz is to put their head down they do not say "l'david." – yosef lavi Feb 14 '19 at 23:57
  • @yoseflavi is there another part of tachnun that sephardim do nefilas apayim or is this not part of their nusach? – Dude Feb 15 '19 at 4:20
  • @Dude its not part of their nusach – yosef lavi Feb 15 '19 at 17:25

According to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav 131:1

עַל פִּי הַקַּבָּלָה, יֵשׁ לוֹמַר מִזְמוֹר מ"ז, "אֵלֶיךָ ה' נַפְשִׁי אֶשָּׂא". אַךְ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָאוֹמְרוֹ וְלִבּוֹ רָחוֹק מִמֶּנּוּ גּוֹרֵם לוֹ לְהֵאָסֵף בְּלֹא עִתּוֹ, לְפִיכָךְ נִמְנְעוּ לְאָמְרוֹ בַּמְּדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ, אֶלָּא אוֹמְרִים "רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן כו' ה' אַל בְּאַפְּךָ כו'":‏

According to the Kabbalah (זהר ח"ג קכ, ב. הובא בב"י ד"ה כ' בספר הזוהר), one should say the psalm that begins, “[By David:] To You, O G‑d, I raise up my soul,” [as the supplication]. Nevertheless, because [the Zohar (ibid) teaches that] one who recites this psalm while his heart is in a distant place will die prematurely, [the custom] in these countries is to refrain from saying it. Instead, we say “Merciful and Gracious One,... G‑d, do not in Your anger....”

Note that the footnote adds:

"This is the custom in the Ashkenazic community. In his Siddur (and this is also the custom of Nussach Sephard), the Alter Rebbe prescribes that Psalm 25 should in fact be recited."

Either way, the problem, according to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav is not the actual putting one's head down but the recital without paying attention.

A quick peek at that Zohar: Seems that praying without intent in general is dangerous to one's wellbeing, though Psalm 25 is worse, since there it starts with "to You. O Lord do I pray" - and saying this mindlessly means one is flat-out lying.

So, no matter what one's prays one has to pay attention - thus, it seems, that Chabad saw no reason to single out this specific part of the prayers.

  • 47 or 25? It is not clear. – kouty Feb 13 '19 at 20:31

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