BERACHOS - Chapter I
8. Sayings of Abba Binyamin (5b-6a)
A person should pray immediately after getting out of bed, but not next to
his bed, because nothing should come between a praying person and the
wall, as it says "Chizkiyahu turned his face to the wall and prayed"
If two people go in to pray, and one finishes and does not wait for the
other, his prayer is maimed, as it says "Your spirit is maimed; you
deserted the land" (Job 18:4), and he causes the Divine presence to remove
itself from Israel, as it says "The Rock (The Rock that bore you:
Deut.32:18) will move from its place" (ibid.). But if he waits for him, he
earns these blessings: "If you listen to My commandments, your peace will
be like a river..."(Isaiah 48:18-19).
A person's prayer is heard in a synagogue, as it says "To hear the
singing and the prayer" (1 Kings 8:28): Prayer should be in a place where
praises are sung. G-d can be found in a synagogue, and if ten people meet
to pray, the Divine Presence is with them, as it says "G-d stands in the
congregation of G-d" (Psalms 82:1). If three people sit in judgment, the
Divine Presence is with them, as it says "Amidst the judges, He judges"
(ibid.). If two people sit and study Torah, the Divine Presence is with
them, as it says "Then those who feared G-d spoke to one another, and G-d
listened, and a memorandum was written about those who fear G-d and think
of His name" (Malachi 3:16); "Think of His Name" means that if a person
intends to perform a commandment but is prevented from doing it, he is
credited as though he had done it. Even if one person sits and studies
Torah, the Divine Presence is with him, as it says "Wherever I cause My
Name to be mentioned, I will come to you (Ex.20:21). For two people, it is
recorded; for three, I might think judgment is mere peace-making, but in
fact it is Torah; and for ten, the Divine Presence arrives even before
9. G-d's "Tefillin" ("phylacteries") (6a-b)
G-d wears Tefillin*, because it says "G-d swore by His right hand and His
strong arm" (Isaiah 62:8); "His right hand" refers to the Torah, as it
says "From His right hand, a fiery law for them" (Deut.33:2); "strong"
refers to tefillin, as it says "G-d will give strength to His people"
(Psalms 29:11) -- tefillin are a source of strength, as it says "All the
peoples of the world will see that G-d's name is on you and will fear you"
(Deut.28:10): This refers to the tefillin on the head.
The verse "Who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation in the world"
(1 Chron.17:21) is written in G-d's tefillin. G-d praises Israel, as it
says "You honored G-d today... and G-d honored you today" (Deut.26:17-18):
You made Me a unique entity in the world, as it says "Hear, Israel:
Ha-Shem our G-d is one" (Deut.6:4), and I will make you a unique entity in
The four compartments of G-d's head tefillin contain the verses "What
great nation... and what great nation..." (Deut.4:7-8); "Happy are you,
Israel" (Deut.33:29) and "Who is like Your people Israel..." (1
Chron.17:21); "Or has G-d ventured..." (Deut.4:34); and "To place you
high..."; and these verses are all in His arm tefillin.
[* Obviously, this refers not to physical Tefillin, but rather to a
metaphysical construct whose closest physical approximation is what
we call Tefillin, or phylacteries. The same can be said of all
anthropomorphic references to G-d, such as G-d having hands, arms, and
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