You are on page 1of 17

Rehov Bei t Vegan 99, Yer ushal ayi m 03.616.

6340
164 Vi l l age Pat h, Lakewood NJ 08701 732.370.3344 fax 1.877.Pi rchei (732.367.8168)
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
The Roadmap t o Prayer
Lesson 22
Pirchei Shoshanim
This shiur may not be reproduced in any f orm without permission of the copyright hol der
339
Tachanun - Nefilas Apayim
Fervent Prayer wi t h ones Face Down
Af ter Chazoras H ashatz (the repetition of the Shemoneh E srei) we proceed with a very
unique prayer called T achanun (f ervent prayer) or N efi las A payi m (with ones f ace
down).
Originally, N efi las A payi m consisted of placing ones f ace all the way down to the
ground. This was accomplished through a unique maneuver called Ki dah which was
bending over and touching the ground with ones f ace without prostrating the rest of
ones body
1
. The A ruch H ashulchan
2
writes f rom the Rambam
3
that originally N efi las
A payi m did consist of prostrating oneself completely to the ground and that some
people bowed completely to the ground while others did Ki dah.
The Ashkenazic Way
The prayer of T achanun is comprised of a prayer from T ehi lli m in chapter 6
4
where
K ing David (D ovid H amelech) f inds himself bed-ridden with a terrible illness. He sees
this as a sign to repent f or his sin
5
with Bas Sheva
6
who was destined to be his wif e in
the f uture.
Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch ztl notes that af ter reciting Shemoneh E srei which is a
prayer on behalf of all our bret hren, this particular prayer brings us to f ocus on our
personal f ailings and to examine our deeds so that we can repent and rectif y them.
Just as D ovid H amelech introspected into his behavior and sought out H ashems
1
M ishna Berura 131: 3
2
Simon 131: 4
3
H ilchos T efill a Chapter 5
4
Sephardim recite Chapter 25 as discussed further in this lesson
5
See a discussion in the Gemara Shabbos daf 56a that D ovi d H amel ech did not transgress any Torah prohibition
6
See Book oh Shmuel chapter 24
Lesson
22
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
340
f orgiveness, so too we are compelled to do the same and we f all on our f aces to seek
out H ashems forgiveness.
I n this prayer we beseech H ashem to protect us f rom harm and retribution f or sinning
against Him. We ask for total f orgiveness and atonement.
Af ter we f inish this portion of Tehi lli m, we lif t our heads and remain sitting while
saying the f inal stanzas of Shomer Y israel etc. Then, when we reach V aanachnu l o nedah
mah naaseh (and we do not know what else to do), we stand up again, gesturing that
we now do not know any longer what to do if our prayers are not accepted.
The Significance of t he Tachanun Prayer
The Gemara in Tractate T aani s
7
states that someone who is a distinguished Torah
scholar should avoid reciting T achanun on the publics behalf if he is unsure whether
his prayers will be accepted. This is to say that if people see that such a great prayer
f rom such a distinguished individual is not readily accepted by H ashem it will cause a
desecration to H ashems Holy Name, that this scholar is not really as distinguished as
we originally thought.
The Gemara cites Y ehoshua ben N un
8
as an example of a distinguished individual who
said a prayer while f alling to his f ace to the ground. This episode took place af ter
Y ehoshua and the nei Y i srael were routed in their f irst attempt to take the city of A i
9
in their conquest of the Land of I srael. Y ehoshua had prostrated himself in prayer to
intercede on behalf of the nation, but H ashem told him to get up and stop his prayer.
Rashi in M egi llah
10
explains this to mean that H ashem was reprimanding Y ehoshua f or
prostrating himself in public assuming that G-d would answer his request.
Moshe Rabbei nu Fal l s t o Hi s Face i n Prayer
When the Jewish Nation sinned in the desert with the Golden Calf (E i gel H azahav),
H ashem anger burned and He was ready to destroy them. M oshe Rabbei nu was
determined to save the nei Y i srael f rom this terrible f ate and started to daven
f ervently on their behalf . M oshe Rabbei nu himself describes this prayer later in the
7
Daf 14b and Megillah 22b
8
Primary disciple of M osheRabbeinu
9
See Book of Joshua Chapter 7
10
Daf 22b
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
341
Book of D evari m
11
. He f irst recounts the days he spent atop Mount Sinai to receive the
Torah. He said, V aei shei v bahar arbai m yome etc.
12
(and I sat on the mountain f orty
days). V oesnapal l i fnei H ashem
13
(and I f ell bef ore H ashem). I t also says V eanochi omadeti
bahar etc.
14
(and I stood on the mountain). Since M oshe Rabbei nu beseeched H ashem to
save the nei Y i srael from danger by sitting, standing and f alling to his f ace in prayer,
we too do the same. The T ur
15
and the Bach explain that we too make a similar ef fort
in our prayers by f irst sitting by the reading of Shema (Kri as Shema) and its blessings
(brochos), and then we stand in prayer bef ore G-d by Shemoneh E srei. Finally we f all to
our f ace in prayer by the prayer of T achanun. We then conclude V aanachnu lo nedah
mah naaseh noy: nn y+: : :n: (and we do not know what else to do) indicating that
we have made every kind ef f ort to emulate M oshe Rabbei nu (Moses our teacher) by
praying in all the ways he did; sitting, standing and by laying down with our f aces
down towards the ground.
Gi ving up our Li ves
The Z ohar explains that f alling to our f aces (N efi las A payi m) is showing our tot al
devotion to H ashem to the point that we are ready to lay ourselves down and give up
our lives. The A ri ztl also writes about this in his k abali sti c writings regarding
T achanun. He writes that this is the second time we demonstrate our f ull devotion to
A vodas H ashem (G-ds service) to the end degree. The first time is when we recite the
Shema we imagine ourselves serving G-d to the point of even dying f or His Names
sake as we say V eahavtah ei s H ashem E lok echa bechol levavecha uvechol nafshecha :5a |p:
|oo: :5a |aa: uon n nan (and you shall love H ashem your G-d with all your heart
and all your soul), which our Sages determine to mean even if it means giving up our
soul f or H ashems sake. The diff erence between the two instances can be understood
with the f ollowing comment by Rav Shlomo Alkabetz (author of the L echa D odi ,
Friday night prayer) as quoted by the Shel ah H ak adosh, that when f alling to ones f ace
we demonstrate our willingness to die for some sins that cannot be atoned through
any other means, such as the sin of Chi llul H ashem (desecrating G-ds honor). I n
ef f ect, f alling to ones f ace (N efi las A payi m) symbolically represents a punishment by
death that brings atonement and closure to ones sin, while by the reading of Shema
11
Chapters 9-10
12
Devarim 9: 9
13
I bid. 9:25
14
I bid. 10:10
15
Orach Chaim Simon 131
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
342
(Kri as Shema) the message is that we are so devoted in our A vodas H ashem (service of
G-d) that we are even willing to give up our lives so not to transgress G-ds
commands.
Alternatively, the T anya and the Y aavetz write in their comment ary to the Siddur
(Prayer Book) that the basic diff erence between our willingness to die f or G-ds sake
and f or the sake of his Torah by the reading of Shema and by f alling to ones f ace
(N efi las A payi m) is that by the reading of Shema it is only theoretical, while by f alling
to ones f ace (N efi las A payi m) it is actual. Although even by f alling to ones f ace one
isnt actually giving up his lif e; still one demonstrates the resolve to lie down and give
up ones own lif e for H ashems honor. When reciting these prayers with proper intent,
ones thoughts will be considered as good as deeds.
The Symbol i sm of Fal l i ng t o ones Face
Rabbei nu Bachaye gives three meanings to the concept of N efi l as A payi m as it is applied
in the Torah:
1) I t shows our f ear and reverence of G-d where there is Divine Revelation.
For this reason we recite this prayer while we hide our f ace, which shows
respect and reverence.
2) I t demonstrates our sincere remorse and humility f or transgressing G-ds
command. This is a f undamental of repentance (T eshuvah) which is crucial to
H ashems acceptance of our prayers (tefi l os).
3) I t exhibits our total devotion to G-ds will, by completely eliminating our
own physical desires f or the purpose of carrying out H ashems commands.
Vidui (Confession)
I n addition to reciting the above-mentioned chapter in T ehi lli m, many people have the
custom to pref ace it with the recitation of V i dui (conf ession) of A shamnu, bagadnu etc.
which enumerates according to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, various sins we
may have committed. The custom is to gently strike the lef t side of his breast by the
heart f or each word of the A leph Bei s sequence.
I n addition to conf ession (V i dui ), we also recite the 13 Attributes of Mercy. All this is
recited to f ervently request f orgiveness f rom H ashem. This combination of conf ession
(V i dui ) with the 13 A ttri butes of M ercy serve as the f oundation of our Seli chos Prayers that
we recite during the Month of E lul (the Hebrew calendar month immediately prior to
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
343
the start of Rosh H ashanah and Y om Ki ppur as well as on other occasions such as public
f asts.
According to the explanation that f alling to ones f ace (N efi las A payi m) demonstrates
our willingness to die to attain atonement f or our sins, it makes sense that we f irst
recite the A shamnu conf ession (V i dui ). Every person that dies
16
should recite V i dui
(Conf ession) before expiring so that one returns his soul to his Creator in a state of
purity by repenting along with a verbal conf ession (V idui ). However, according to the
other explanation that f alling to ones f ace (N efi las A payi m) is just another f orm of
prayer emulating M oshe Rabbei nus ef f orts in prayer on behalf of the nei Y i srael , it
doesnt seem necessary to insert a conf ession (V i dui ) prayer bef orehand
17
.
When f alling on ones f ace, one should not place it into the palm of the hand since a
persons sins are written on ones palm.
18
The Placement of Tachanun aft er
Shemoneh Esrei
Although T achanun may be recited at any time, its proper placement is right af ter the
prayer of Shemoneh E srei . This f its in according to the explanation that this prayer is
recited in order to emulate the dif f erent methods that M oshe Rabbei nu utilized in his
prayers (tefi los). I n the Gemara in Bava M etzi a
19
it relates that the f ull potential of
T achanun is realized only when it is said without interruption between it and Shemoneh
E srei . The Gemara tells us how Rebbe E lazars wif e I mma Shalom, would always cause
her husband to have some f orm of interruption between Shemoneh E srei and T achanun.
She did so because she f eared that the power of her husbands T achanun would cause
her brother Rabban Gamli el to die because Rebbe E lazar became upset with him. By
reciting T achanun, which closes with the verses dealing with K ing Davids
20
(D ovi d
H amel echs) prayer that H ashem do away with his enemies, she was concerned that
something would happen to her brother as well. I ndeed, the Gemara relates that one
16
I f on account of suggesting to an individual that he should recite V idui because his condition is worsening it will
add stress which will adversely af f ect him, one should ref rain from suggesting it.
17
L ik utei M aharich on the T achanun Prayer
18
M eam L o' ez Shemos - 34:6
19
D af 59b
20
This is according to the verse recited by N usach Sefard and N usach A shk enaz. However, there is no ref erence in the
Gemara to which Psalm is recited for T achanun.
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
344
day I mma Shalom was delayed and Rebbe E lazar said T achanun immediately af ter
Shemoneh E srei without any int erruption; Rabban Gaml i el his brother in law died shortly
af terwards.
From this we see the import ance of reciting T achanun immediately af ter Shemoneh E srei
without interrupt ion and the tremendous power this prayer (tefi lla) possesses when it
is said with the proper concentration, intention, and order.
Additionally, it is appropriate for it to be recited right after Shemoneh E srei since we are
emulating M oshe who davened in three diff erent manners. We f irst daven sitting
during the reading of Shema (Shema (Kri as Shema) and its blessings, then standing
during Shemoneh E srei , and f inally now with our f aces towards the ground.
The book (sefer) Rok each
21
writes concerning when K ing Solomon (Shlomo H amelech)
inaugurated the Bei s H ami k dash, there is verse (pasuk ) that describes how he f inished
reciting his prayer and beseeching H ashem. I n Hebrew, this is described as follows:
V ayehee k echalos Shlomo lehi spallei l el H ashem es k ol H atefilla vehatechi na hazose n:55 n
nn n:nnn n:onn :5 n uon : ::onn: nn:o (I M elachi m 8:54). We see in this verse
that K ing Solomon (Shlomo H amel ech) f irst recited a prayer (tefi lla) n:on - Shemoneh
E srei , and then a T echi na n:nn. That is why we too recite T achanun f ollowing Shemoneh
E srei .
Rav M oshe F ei nstei n
22
ztl writes that the reason we do not recite Kaddi sh af ter Shemoneh
E srei bef ore reciting T achanun is because T achanun is considered a continuum of
Shemoneh E srei which is why we should not interrupt between Shemoneh E srei and
T achanun
23
.
L L a aw w s s u : + u : +
T achanun is recited with ones f ace towards the ground while leaning ones head
on ones arms.
I t is pref erable to recite T achanun while sitting down. However, if one cannot sit
down because someone is standing and davening Shemoneh E srei behind him, then
one should recite T achanun while standing and leaning on ones arm.
21
Simon 324
22
Volume 3:81
23
See further on for the exact meaning of this H al acha.
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
345
On t he Left or on t he Right ?
There is a discussion amongst the authorities on Jewish Law (Posk im) on how one
should lean on ones f ace (N efi las A payi m). As mentioned earlier, it was perf ormed
originally by prostrating oneself onto the ground. Nowadays we do not practice this
custom f or various reasons
24
. However, the custom remains that we lay with our
heads tilted to one of the sides. Some opinions maintain to lean on the right arm
while others maintain to lean on the left arm. The prevalent custom to lean to the
right side by Shachari s since one dons T efi lli n on the lef t arm. Other times, when we
do not don Tefi lli n, we lean to the lef t
25
. The Gra maintains that one should always
lean to the lef t. He explains that we do so since T achanun completes the Shemoneh E srei
prayer. Since during Shemoneh E srei we are considered being in the presence of the
Shechi na (Divine Presence) which is to our right as the Shi balei H al ek et
26
points out, it is
appropriate to f ace the Divine Presence by leaning on our lef t side. Even when one is
wearing T efi lli n straps on the lef t arm, it is not considered shaming ones T efi lli n, since
lying like that actually pushes ones Tefi lli n opposite ones heart, f ulf illing the verse that
T efi lli n should be opposite ones heart
27
.
Another reason for leaning on ones arm is to show humility and modesty, which is
accomplished by leaning to either side. Except for when we are wearing Tefi lli n, we do
it on the left, which is the pref erred way according to Kabbalah as not ed by Rabbei nu
Bachaye
28
.
The Shi balei H alek et cites another reason f rom Rav H ai Gaon. The reason for lying on
ones lef t side is because the custom used to be that people of royalty would lay on
their lef t side while partaking in a meal. We do this on Passover (Pesach) by the Seder,
when we lean on our lef t sides while eating the M atzah and drinking the f our cups of
wine. By f alling to ones f ace, we demonstrate our willingness to forgo our custom of
acting as men of royalty; instead we devote ourselves totally to the service of H ashem.
24
See Magen Avraham 131: 3 that there is a Torah prohibition on stone f loors which applies also to other surf aces
and by Rabbinic extension it is always avoided, Therefore we lay with our heads tilted onto our arms.
25
The Levush 131: 1 also mentions this compromise
26
Quoted further on in this lesson
27
From Tanya Rabbasi Simon 5
28
Rama in Simon 131: 1
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
346
When leaning on ones arm, there should be a garment
29
that covers ones f ace with.
The purpose of the garment according to the M agen A vraham is in order to avoid
bowing ones f ace to the ground on a stone f loor. I t is a Torah prohibition to actually
put ones f ace all the way to the ground. Accordingly, one would be allowed to lean
over a table when learning at a stand (stender)
30
.
The L evush states that f or the same reason we must lean a little to the side and not
f ace directly down.
The M i shna Berura
31
writes that the reason we cover our f ace with a garment is an act
of humility. Putting ones f ace directly over ones arm doesnt show humility since
ones own f lesh is not a covering f or his f ace. I f a person does not have a garment
one should not recite T achanun while leaning on ones arm. Likewise, leaning ones
head over a table doesnt accomplish this nor does placing a tissue over ones arm
accomplish this.
Confession (Vidui) and t he 13 Att ribut es of Mercy
N usach Sefard recites confession (V i dui ) and the 13 A ttri butes of M ercy bef ore f alling to
ones f ace (N efi las A payi m). They are both recited only while standing.
B Ba ac ck k g gr r o ou un nd d n :pn n :pn
The 13 Attributes of Mercy are a powerf ul f orm of Tefi ll a that G-d Himself revealed
to M oshe Rabbei nu atop Mt. Sinai. The verse (pasuk ) in Parshas Ki Si ssa
32
relates how
M oshe Rabbei nu was told by G-d to go up onto the mountain (Mt. Sinai) with two
tablets of stone. Af ter M oshe Rabbei nu went up to the mountain as G-d commanded
him, H ashems Divine Presence descended upon the mountain and M oshe Rabbei nu
called the Name of H ashem. What happened next is something the Gemara says one
really cannot say it were it not openly recorded in the Torah in the manner it was. I t is
as if G-d wrapped Himself as a leader of a congregation (Shali ach T zi bbur) and recited
the 13 Attributes of Mercy, teaching M oshe Rabbei nu that whenever there is a terrible
decree f acing the Jewish Nation, one should f ollow this procedure and one will be
29
I .e. The sleeve of a jacket or shirt
30
See Sefer Avnei Yoshfeh Orach Chaim Volume 1:21
31
Simon 131: 3
32
Shemos 34:6-9
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
347
granted mercy. Reciting these attributes properly has the unique ability to arouse the
attribute of mercy f rom H ashem to save us f rom tragedy.
L L a aw w s s u : + u : +
The 13 Attributes of Mercy are considered a D avar shebi k dusha (A matter of
sanctif ication) which may only be recited by a mi nyan of adult Jewish males.
I f there is no mi nyan, the 13 Attributes of Mercy may be recited by an individual
who sings it by the tune (trop) it is sung when reading it f rom the Torah. I n this
case, the entire verse is read until the end which is more than the usual amount
recited by the congregation (tzi bbur).
I t may be recited by night but only after midnight.
Mondays and Thursdays
On Mondays and Thursdays we add numerous prayers to T achanun beginning with
V eH u Rachum un: n. This section is recited while standing. There are various
customs related to the placement of T achanun on these days.
The Cust om of Sephardim
The custom of Sephardi m when it comes to T achanun is completely dif f erent than the
custom of A shk enazi m. Sephardi m do not f all to their f aces at all, nor do Sephardi m
recite the 6
th
chapter of Tehi lli m. Sephardi m recite an entirely diff erent chapter of
T ehi lli m, L eD ovi d ei lecha H ashem nafshi essa o oo: uon |: ++:
3 3
(To David, to You
H ashem I lif t up my soul). The custom of Sephardi m is to begin with V i dui and the 13
A tt ri butes of M ercy while standing and then proceed to recite L eD ovi d ei lecha H ashem
nafshi essa while sitting.
The reason why Sephardi m do not recite the chapter of T ehi lli m that A shk enazi m recite
f or T achanun writes the Ben I sh Chai
34
, the Z ohar
35
writes that saying the chapter of
T ehi lli m of Rachum V echanun
36
without proper concentration is not only not benef icial,
but it can be spiritually harmf ul. Theref ore, since we are prone to reciting the
33
Tehillim 25
34
Parshas Ki Sissa
35
See Magen Avraham 131: 5 citing Zohar (Volume 3 page 120b)
36
Chapter 6
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
348
T achanun prayers without proper concentration, it is better for us not to recite it at all.
Sephardi m do not put their heads down either when reciting L eD ovi d ei lecha H ashem
nafshi essa but do recite these verses sitting down.
V e H u R a c h u m - : n un
The Z ohar writes that the prayer of V eH u Rachum is an especially powerf ul prayer.
Through this prayer, G-ds attribute of Mercy is aroused to prevent the spiritual
f orces of impurity from preventing our prayers f rom reaching Him. Thus, this prayer
is a signif icant addition to T achanun and should be recited with fervent concentration.
B Ba ac ck k g gr r o ou un nd d n : pn n : pn
The L evush as well as others bring the f ollowing story regarding the choice of prayers
which are added to the Monday/ Thursday T achanun prayers. I t is a story of three
individuals who lef t Y erushalayi m with the exile and went to live in a certain city. They
were given an ultimatum by the governor to convert or be thrown into a f iery f urnace
to be killed similar to the attempt on the lives of Chanania, M i sha' el and A zari ah in the
days of N ebuchadnezzar. The Governor wanted to test them to see if they also would
come out alive just as their f ellow Jews did bef ore them. They then asked f or a 30 day
reprieve in which they f asted. Among them was someone who was an extremely
righteous person but he was not so well learned. On the 30
th
day this man had a
dream in which he saw a certain verse. I n it the word when repeated twice and the
word not appeared three times. Among the 3 was also a wise man who understood
that it alluded to the f ollowing verses in I saiah/ Y eshaya 43:2.
The Prophet (N avi ) I sai ah prophesized: A nd now, thus says H ashem your Creator, O Jacob;
the One who fashioned you, O I srael : F ear not, for I have redeemed you, I have call ed you by N ame;
you are M ine. When you pass through water I am wi th you; through rivers, they wi ll not wash you
away; when you walk through fi re, you wi ll not besi nged and the flames wi ll not burn you.
37
Upon hearing these prophetic words, the wise man said to the righteous man that you
will surely be saved. The governor proceeded with his plan and staged a very large f ire
f or the men to be put through. A miracle happened and all three passed through the
f ire and came out unharmed. The Three came out unharmed. The f irst of them
recited the prayer of V eH u Rachum (H e, the M erci ful One) until A na mel ech Rachum
vechanun ( For you, God, are a mercif ul and compassionate K ing ). The second one
recited the next portion until E i n k amocha ( There is none like you ) and the third
37
Y eshaya 43: 1, 2
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
349
recited the next portion until the end. I t was such a miraculous event that it was
decreed that these verses be said every Monday and Thursday which are days that our
prayers are more readily accepted
38
.
Each segment begins with the word Rachum (mercy) and ends with the word Rachum.
Each segment contains 18 times the mention of H ashems N ame. For this reason, we
always recite it while standing like the Shemoneh E srei prayer which is originally a prayer
of 18 blessings. The Rama
39
says that it should be recited quietly like Shemoneh E srei as
well. However, the E lya Rabba says that the custom is to recite it out loud. According
to H al acha, saying it while standing is imperative, while saying out loud is not.
The T ur
40
writes that Mondays and Thursdays are part icularly good days for prayers to
be readily accepted as when M oshe Rabbei nu went up to receive the second set of
tablets, the (L uchos Sheni yos) n:o nn:, he ascended the mountain on a Thursday and
he came back down with the Tablets (L uchos) on Yom K ippur of that year which was
on a Monday.
They are also days of judgment as both the Heavenly court and the Batei D i n (Jewish
court s) convene on Mondays and Thursdays
41
.
Both Sephardi m and A shk enazi m recite the V eH u Rachum prayer except that there are
some variances in the text as well as the order of the prayers. Likewise, the text of
V eH u Rachum of N usach Sefard varies f orm that of N usach A shk enaz.
The Closing of Tachanun
I n N usach A shk enaz as well as N usach Sefard, we close the T achanun prayer with the
stanzas of Shomer Y i srael etc. (Guardian of I srael) and then with the stanza beginning
V aanachnu l o neda mah naaseh (And we know not what more to do). Sephardi m do not
recite the stanzas of Shomer Y israel etc. I nstead they say a stanza beginning with V eH u
yi fdeh es Y israel mik ol e avonosav etc. (And He will redeem I srael f rom all its iniquities.
Following this, Sephardi m recite V aanachnu l o neda mah naaseh (And we know not what
more to do).
38
As mentioned by the Tur quoted further along in this lesson
39
Simon 134: 1
40
I bid.
41
Aruch Hashulchan 134: 1
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
350
I I n nt t i i m ma at t i i o on n - - n: n:
The Rok each brings a hint ) n: ( from the verse in I sai ah
42
which we read for the
H aftorah (Verses read f rom scriptures af ter the public reading f rom the Torah scroll)
of f ast-days. The verse reads D i rshu H ashem behi motzoh xnna uon o:+ (Seek G-d
when he is close by ). The Hebrew word behi motzoh xn'n'a, the letter Bei s a and
the letter n represent the numeral 2 and 5, the second day of the week which is
Monday and the f if th day of the week which is Thursday. Accordingly this means on
Mondays and Thursdays is when H ashem is, so to speak, close by .
I n some places that f ollow N usach A shk enaz, they recite the Conf ession (V i dui ) and
the 13 A ttri butes of M ercy on Mondays and Thursdays bef ore adding the numerous
prayers to T achanun. Other places that daven N usach A shk enaz add the prayers of
V eH u Rachum immediately af ter Shemoneh E srei . They do the f alling to the f ace (N efi las
A payi m) towards the end of the additions and they do not recite conf ession (V i dui )
and the 13 A tt ri butes of M ercy.
Others do N efi las A payi m af ter Shemoneh E srei and bef ore the prayers of V eH u
Rachum, without conf ession (V i dui ) and the 13 A ttri butes.
L L a aw w s s u : + u : +
There are many details to the laws of when T achanun is recited and when it is
omitted entirely or when it is recited but without f alling to ones f ace
43
.
T achanun is recited while putting ones head down only if there is a sef er
Torah in the building. I t should be recited while seated, if possible.
I f there is no sefer Torah present, then the verses are still recited but without
putting ones f ace down. According to some opinions, even if there are other
sefarim present in the room, one should recite it but not put his f ace down.
Others allow f alling to ones f ace (N efi las A payi m) if there are sef arim in the
room.
One should not int errupt between Shemoneh E srei and T achanun with an
interruption that distracts one f rom his prayers
44
.
42
55: 6
43
See Orach Chaim Simon 131
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
351
The custom is not to recite T achanun when it is nighttime. However, during
Bei n H ashemashos (Halachic twilight) one still recites T achanun.
On Shabbos and Yom Tov we omit T achanun entirely.
Additionally, we omit T achanun on:
Rosh Chodesh, the entire month of N i ssan, Pesach Sheni (14
th
of I yar), L ag
Beomer, f rom Rosh Chodesh Si van until and including the day af ter Shavuos,
(according to others until but not including the thirteenth of Sivan), T i sha
A v, f if teenth of A v, f rom Y om Ki ppur until af ter Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, The
eight days of Chanuk ah, the f ifteenth of Shevat, the minor Purim both days
45
,
the major Puri m both days
46
.
Al l t hese days we om i t T achanu n st ar t i ng at t he M i ncha pr ayer of t he
day bef ore.
The custom is not to recite it in the house of mourners
47
. However, in a case
where the mourner is in the synagogue, only the mourner himself does not
recite T achanun; everyone else does.
I t is also not recited in the synagogue where there will be a circumcision (Bri s
M i lah) taking place or if the M ohel (the person who performs the
circumcision) or Sandak (the person who holds the baby during the
circumcision) is present at that M i nyan even when the circumcision itself is
held at another location.
We do not recite T achanun in the presence of a Chassan (see below).
A Chassan nn (brides groom) is exempt and he also exempt s the ent ire shul
(synagogue) even in adjacent rooms (provided they are not equipped with their own
Sefer T orah and Holy Ark). This exemption is even on the wedding day prior to the
44
M agen A vraham 131: 1. The Aruch Hashulchan disagrees. He says that there is no specif ic prohibition to interrupt
as the entire prayer is an optional prayer which eventually became standard practice. Rather, any interruption will
diminish the ef f ectiveness of the T achanun prayer as we f ind in the story of I mma Shal om.
45
14
th
& 15
th
A dar I , when it is a Hebrew leap year
46
14
th
& 15
th
A dar of a regular calendar year. 14
th
& 15
th
A dar I I , when it is a Hebrew leap year.
47
See M ishna Berura 131:20 that in the house of a mourner we do not recite T achanun just as we do not recite it at
night since it can arouse the Attribute of Strict Judgment which is prevalent at night and in the house of a mourner.
This explanation is based in Kabal isti cliterature.
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - L E S S O N 2 2
352
wedding, according to the Gra. The M i shna Berura maintains that in this case, just the
Chassan himself is exempt, not the congregation.
On the rest of the days of the seven-day period af ter the wedding, the Chassan
exempts everyone. The M i shna Berura pref ers that the Chassan not come to shul during
the entire period. Rav Shlomo Z alman A uerbach ztl commented that this applies to all
days except f or the day af ter the wedding. This is because the Rama maintains that on
the subsequent days, the Chassan doesnt exempt anyone (but himself ) while the Taz
rules that he does. Since the H alacha is disputed, it is pref erable that the Chassan avoid
praying with a M i nyan on the rest of the seven-day period. However, on the morning
immediately af ter the marriage, everyone would agree that he exempts everyone and
he may theref ore attend shul without hesitation.
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - Q U E S T I O N S
353
Quest ions:
1) Which chapter of T ehi lli m is recited f or the T achanun prayer?
2) What is the lesson that we must take f rom the verses of the chapter of
Rachum V echanun which discusses D ovid H amelech and his encounter with
Bas Sheva?
3) What is the signif icance of the way A shk enazi m recite T achanun which we
allude to in the prayer of V aanachnu lo nedah mah naaseh (and we do not
know what else to do)?
4) Why do we hide our f aces according to A shk enazi c custom? (Rabbei nu
Bachaye 1/ 3)
5) What is added bef ore T achanun according to some customs? How is this
connected with the symbolism of f alling to ones f ace as explained by the
Z ohar?
6) At what point of davening (prayer) do we recite T achanun? What is the
source for this? What should we be caref ul about?
7) What is the pref erred position for reciting T achanun according to all
customs?
8) Onto which arm is the prevalent custom to lean?
9) On what days of the week is V eH u Rachum recited and according to
which customs? Why particularly on these days (T ur)?
10) When is T achanun said without putting ones f ace down according to
A shk enazic custom?
T H E P I R C H E I S H O S H A N I M R O A D M A P T O P R A Y E R P R O J E C T
A N A T T A C H M E N T O F T H E S O U L - A N S W E R S
354
Answers:
1) According to Sephardi m the chapter beginning L eD ovi d ei lecha H ashem
nafshi essa is recited. According to A shk enazi m the chapter beginning
Rachum V echanun is recited.
2) I t teaches us to introspect and repent f or our sins and shortcomings.
3) A shk enazim recite T achanun while leaning with the f ace to ground which is
another position that we beseech H ashem in prayer similar to the way
M oshe Rabbei nu beseeched H ashem af ter the Bnei Y i srael sinned with the
Golden Calf (E i gel H azhav).
4) 1) Out of respect 2) Out of humility 3) To show our total devotion.
5) V i dui and the 13 A ttri butes of M ercy. I t is connected to the symbolism of
T achanun where we show our readiness to give up our lif e f or H ashems
Torah. One who is ready to give up ones lif e should f irst repent and
verbally conf ess his sins.
6) Right af ter Shemoneh E srei like we f ind by Shl omo H amel ech. One should be
caref ul not to interrupt between Shemoneh E srei and T achanun with an
interrupt ion that distracts one f rom his prayers.
7) Sitting down.
8) We generally lean on the left arm. Some opinions maintain that when one
is wearing T efi lli n on ones lef t are one should lean on the right arm.
9) According to all customs, V eH u Rachum is recited on Mondays and
Thursdays, the days of the week that M oshe Rabbei nu ascended and
descended the mountain to receive the second set of Tablets (L uchos
Sheni yos).
10) I f there is no Sefer T orah or no sefari m (Torah books) present.