Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Yetzer Hara & Aleinu

Whether at Shachris, Mincha, or Maariv, more often than not I absentmindedly rush through Aleinu. The fact that this tefilla is attributed to Yehoshua who composed it after toppling the walls of Yericho has remained for me just that - simply a fact.

While contemplating the subject of obstacles, my brain made the connection between the walls of Yericho and the walls in my mind. I finally understood why the yetzer hara fought me tooth and nail for so long in its attempt to ensure that I disregard Aleinu.

Aleinu contains within it the tremendous power to obliterate obstacles. The yetzer hara views it as if it were a nuclear weapon that is intended to be used against it. Thus, the yetzer hara works overtime and continually schemes to prevent a person from saying this tefilla at all, or at least without any bit of kavana.

With this new understanding and appreciation of Aleinu, I now try to view this tefilla as a beginning rather than an ending.


At August 19, 2009 at 8:12:00 AM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Oh so true. I also find it hard at times to have kavana for this tefillah. It's really very powerful and both paragraphs give us a nice vision/goal for when Moshiach will come and the whole world will acknowledge Hashem.

As an aside, I have heard that Aleinu was the tefillah recited by many Kedoshim as they were killed in the Shoah.

At August 19, 2009 at 12:02:00 PM EDT, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

Thanks - I needed that!
I know what ya mean -- A number of times I have attempted to refocus on Aleinu, but somehow after a couple days it falls back into that "last-thing-as-i'm-on-to-other-things" teffiloh. But I'm gonna try again!


At August 19, 2009 at 1:04:00 PM EDT, Blogger Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

This really resonates. Thank you for sharing. Beginnings are much better than endings, after all.

At August 19, 2009 at 1:05:00 PM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

One of the descriptions Chazal give us for the wiles of the yetzer is that we sometimes run away from Kedusha "like a tinok miBeis HaSefer - like a child who was released from school." Aleinu, coming at the end of our Tefillos, "lends itself" to that trick of the Yetzer, indeed!

May we be zoche to overcome it! Chodesh Tov u'mevorach!

At August 19, 2009 at 2:20:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

We also need to try to understand to the best of our ability what "Ein Od" means. Does this mean simply that we worship HaShem only? Or might it mean that only HaShem really exists---in which case, what exactly is the world's existence and our existence?

At August 20, 2009 at 1:26:00 PM EDT, Blogger chanie said...

Nice post. I like the pic, also...

I believe you mean, "more often than not". "Naught" means "nothing".

At August 20, 2009 at 1:29:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks, Chanie. I just made the grammar fix :)

At August 20, 2009 at 5:03:00 PM EDT, Blogger Spiritual Dan said...

Eli Monsoor on had a nice shiur on this. He mentioned how if you look at both the first and last letters of each paragraph, it's ayin and dalet both times (Aleyna, Ein oD) and (v'Al ken nekaveh, u'Shemo EchaD), spelling Ad (witness) two times, referring to the two witnesses that can attest to the veracity of our prayers. I know one witness is H" but I'm not sure who the second witness is - maybe a malach?

At August 20, 2009 at 9:16:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Yaakov said...

wowwwww! thank you! i never knew the origin of alenu....and your analogy to the walls of our minds is brilliant. reminds me of H'telling us to remove the barriers to our hearts. yasher koach

At August 20, 2009 at 9:19:00 PM EDT, Anonymous yaakov said...

spriritual dan: the second witness is you.
bob miller:yes,devarim/deut. 4:39 is an extremely vital sentence. it can be understood as there is H' and nothing else. check the mfarshim on it.
asj: can you pls tell us where you learn that Yehoshua composed alenu?
when we think of this tzaddik/navi's koach/power and devotion it's truly amazing to re-contemplate this tefila.

At August 23, 2009 at 3:25:00 PM EDT, Blogger Batya said...

great post
I guess we all struggle to concentrate on every word.


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