Friday, June 27, 2008

Angels, Aramaic and Language of Tefillah

Rav Yehudah said: One should not ask his needs in Aramaic, because Rabbi Yochanan said: If one asks his needs in Aramaic, the ministering angels do not assist him, for they do not understand Aramaic!?

The Gemora explains: Rav Yehudah was discussing a prayer of an individual (which requires the assistance of the angels), whereas the Mishna is discussing a congregation’s prayer (which may be recited in Aramaic, for they do not require the angel’s help).

The Gemora asks: Do the ministering angels not understand Aramaic? But we learned in the following braisa: Yochanan, the Kohen Gadol heard a heavenly voice issued from within the Holy of Holies announcing, “The young men (Kohanim) who went to wage war in Antioch (against the Greeks) have been victorious.” It also happened with Shimon the Righteous that he heard a heavenly voice issued from within the Holy of Holies announcing, “The army that the enemy had said that they would send out against the Sanctuary has been eradicated.” And Gaskalgus (a Greek king) was slain and his decrees annulled. They noted down the time (when this heavenly voice spoke) and it coincided with the exact time that these events occurred. Now it was in Aramaic that it spoke! [Evidently, the angels do understand Aramaic!?]

If you wish I can answer that it is different with a heavenly voice, since its purpose is to notify people (and this angel knows Aramaic), or if you wish, I can say that it was the angel Gavriel who spoke, for a Master has declared in a braisa: Gavriel came and taught Yosef the seventy languages.

*** Does the prohibition against requesting one’s needs in Aramaic only apply to Aramaic, or to all languages? (Meiri and Rosh Brochos 13a)

*** Do the angels know the thoughts of a person? (Tosfos Shabbos 12b; Maadanei Yom Tov on the Rosh in Brochos 2:6; Reb Yosef Engel in Gilyonei HaShas Shabbos 12bSfas Emes ibid)

*** Must a private individual pray in Hebrew? (Shulchan Aruch O”C, 101:4; Bartenura on our Mishna; Ri”f , Rabbeinu Yonah and Rosh Brochos 13a; Chachmas Shlomo O”C 101:4)

*** Do our tefillos require the assistance of the angels? (HaKoseiv in Ein Yaakov Shabbos 12b; Introduction to Siddur Otzer HaTefillos; Or HaChaim Shmos 3:9; Ra’avad in Tamim De’im 184)