Prayer and Prophecy

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Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik

by R. Aharon Ziegler

Tefillah (prayer), according to Rav Soloveitchik, means talking to G-d.

When we are interested in addressing a human being who is an important official or dignitary we are confined to meet at a certain location, at a specific time and a certain protocol is required. It goes without saying that upon addressing HaKadosh Baruch Hu a protocol of some sort- is required. The location of the Beit HaMikdash is the ideal address for having such a dialogue with HaShem. In the absence of a Beit HaMikdash we have the Beit HaKnesset, or, any other place we choose, but at all times, we try to face in the direction of Yerushalayim.

Nevu’ah- according to the Rav means, G-d is communicating with us, usually through a Navi. In the absence of a Navi G-d reaches out to every individual, usually through a Bat Kol, which only the intended person will hear and it repeats itself at least twice, as stated in Gemara Megillah [32a], “Vehu De’amar Hin- Hin”]. Or, at times a person may experience a strong intuitive feeling, or a dream that appears twice in a short period of time. These could be signs of communication from G-d. When HaShem communicates with us, there is no protocol and no formality necessary, it could come at any time, or at any place

While both Tefillah and Nevu’ah involve dialogue between the human being and G-d, the Rav pointed our there is one major difference between them. In Nevu’ah, G-d initiates the dialogue, while in Tefillah, the human being is the initiator. But the lines of communication are always open and never closed.

About Aharon Ziegler

Rabbi Aharon Ziegler is the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Agudath Achim of Boro Park and the Dean and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Agudath Achim. He is the author of six volumes of Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

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