We are now in a special time period, often referred to as “The Three Weeks.” Most of us are familiar with at least the basic halachos of this time period, as well as “The Nine Days” period, which is relevant to the last nine days, beginning on Rosh Chodesh Av. While we certainly must observe the halachos, we should strive to maximize the many growth opportunities available in both our relationship with Hashem and our relationships with our brothers and sisters in klal Yisrael. This is a time to foster baseless love of each other, to atone for the baseless hatred that was one of the causes of destruction.
The essence of this time period is clearly not just simple observance of the halachos while we go about our days in our usual routine manner with no changes other than not listening to music and letting our hair grow longer. During this time period, we mourn the distance in our connection with Hashem, which came about through the destruction of both Batei Mikdash and our exile from Yerushalayim. We need to put forth efforts to feel the pain of our Father and King, Who is not recognized by most of His children, by most of mankind, and Who had to exile Himself and His children. Even amongst His children who do recognize Him on some level, we are lacking the closeness we are yearning for.
What can we do during this time period to show Hashem that we feel the great void and yearn for His salvation, and ours, which would culminate in our final redemption and return to a rebuilt Yerushalayim and Beis HaMikdash? One very powerful path is to focus on those parts of tefilah that are directly on point in expressing our loss, our yearning, and our tefilos.
We must address a fundamental question before proceeding. Why would we think that our tefilos could make any difference, when Rashi, the Rambam, and so many other greats have poured out their tefilos over all these years but to no avail? Can we really make a difference? The Mabit (Rabbi Moshe ben Yosef di Trani, 1500-1580) and others answer that tefilah here is cumulative. Those before us have accomplished the bulk of the rebuilding through their tefilos and actions. Now it is up to us to finish the job. We are hopefully only completing the last one percent. Therefore, every tefilah is precious!
The Ramchal (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, 1707-1746) writes in M’silas Y’sharim (chapter 19) that when we daven for the Final Redemption, the rebuilding, and the restoration of Hashem’s honor, that brings Hashem “nachas ruach” (satisfaction or pleasure) and simchah.
We now suggest placing extra emphasis in mind and heart on the following areas of our tefilos, at least for the coming Three-Week period:
- In Shemoneh Esrei, work on these points:
the brachah of V’liYerushalayim…
the brachah of Es Tzemach…
the brachah of R’tzei (especially the ending of “V’sechezenah…”)
the Y’hi Ratzon (at the very end).
The Chasam Sofer points out that, since Hashem has promised us the Final Redemption and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, our primary emphasis in our tefilah here should be on those words where we ask for it to happen “speedily”: for example, the words “b’karov b’yameinu” (in V’liYerushalayim), “m’heirah” (in V’liYerushalayim and in Es Tzemach), and “eineinu” (in V’sechezenah).
- The entire second paragraph of “Aleinu,” starting with “Al kein.” This entire paragraph expresses exactly what we are yearning and davening for.
- In Birkas HaMazon, most of the third brachah of “Rachem Na” and some of the “HaRachaman” p’sukim.
There are more. We leave it to each individual to pick one or more of these listed above or choose another tefilah segment that speaks to your heart, to pour out your mourning, yearning, and tefilos to Hashem.
These are tefilos we are all saying already. We would likely be adding just a few seconds to each tefilah we wish to emphasize. We are not suggesting any new additional practices or tefilos. Those extra seconds, placing extra focus and heart on tefilos of your choosing, can transform these weeks into one of the most meaningful and powerful time periods of the year.
One who properly mourns will merit to see the rebuilding, may it come speedily in our days.
Tziyon b’mishpat tipadeh, v’shaveha bitz’dakah.
Tzion shall be redeemed with justice,
and they that return of her with righteousness.
To access print versions of previous Tefilah segments,
please visit OU Torah’s Search portal, select the Topic of “Tefillah,”
and then select “Weekly Tefilah Focus” from the Series list.
For Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman’s video and audio shiurim, which are bas ed on our Tefilah Focus segments but also include his insightful and inspiring additions, please visit www.TorahAnytime.com or simply search for “TorahAnytime Rabbi Finkelman.”
You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.