Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • The Essence of the Day
To dedicate this lesson

“Our eyes and hearts are always directed towards Jerusalem.”

Not only is the amidah directed toward Jerusalem, but the whole prayer service is too, even when we are not facing Jerusalem.

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Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu

Iyar 28 5782
Although we mention the return of the Divine Presence to Zion and Jerusalem with only two blessings, the entire Amidah, the silent prayer, we direct ourselves toward Jerusalem with our face and our heart. We see ourselves as being in Jerusalem even if we are physically elsewhere.

Not only is the amidah directed toward Jerusalem, but the whole prayer service is too, even when we are not facing Jerusalem. Therefore, in the morning prayer we mention Zion and Jerusalem about 20 times explicitly and many more in reference. The "song of the day" is said on the stand of the Temple in Jerusalem. The incense is made in the heart of Jerusalem - the Temple of Hashem.

The blessings of shema also relate to Jerusalem. In particular, the blessing of 'ahava raba' (tremendous love) relates. In it, we pray and ask to be able to learn Torah "for the sake of your great name and for the sake of our fathers who trusted in you, to teach us the ways of life that we may do your will with a full heart." We ask to learn Torah to sanctify His great name in the world.

That is why we ask at the end of this blessing that there be a gathering of exiles and the end of the torment of the nations. "Hurry and bring upon us a blessing and peace to the four corners of the earth. And the burden of the Gentiles is broken over our necks and we are soon led into our land." All these actions are related to Torah study for the sanctification of His name.

"You are He who redeems, and You chose us from amongst the nations." All of these things take place in Jerusalem. There His great name is sanctified for all time, for eternity. Therefore, the heart of he who prays should be directed to Jerusalem throughout the prayer service, from beginning to end.

Also in the verses of song, before Shema, whose purpose is to crown Him (which happens in Jerusalem), we say "And in David’s songs, You will be praised, in praises and in hymns. We will exalt You our King and praise You. We will honor You. And we will crown You. Let’s remember the name of our king, He who gives life, and rules all the worlds." Therefore in every prayer one should direct his heart to Jerusalem.

And really we should be in Jerusalem all day. "We wish all day for your redemption." The verse from which we learned the rabbinical law that we direct our hearts to Jerusalem speaks of all the hours of the day, "And my eyes and my heart are there all the days." This is what He does, and so that is what we must do.
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