Sunday, January 18, 2009

Praying for this-worldly needs


"When Rava saw Rav Hemnuna praying for an extended time, he declared, 'They abandon eternal life [of Torah study] and are instead involved in their temporary needs!'"

(Talmud, Shabbat 10a)

Have a great day,


  1. What is an "extended time"? How is Rava qualified to determine how long Rav Hemnuna should pray? Perhaps he was praying for the ability to concentrate better when he studies Torah, or maybe Rava figured he was just praying for a good deal on an ox. How long should my Amidah last?---shorter than our Rabbi, but longer than our Cantor or Temple President?

  2. These are good questions.
    As far as Rava's qualifications and insight into Rav Hemnuna's prayer, I think the gemara's decision to bring the story speaks to the gemara's own trust in his allegation.
    The objective question is harder. In fact, one talmudic passage praises עיון תפלה (examination of one's prayer), but the gemara also says that one who "overly examines" his prayer is due for disappointment!
    For a brief answer: I would say that a lot of this is, indeed, subjective - but that we need to be sensitive the problem Rava raises.

  3. Thank you. Perhaps the answer can be extrapolated from Eclesiastes---There is a time to study Torah and a time to pray, and one has to have the wisdom to distinguish between the two.