Parshas Vayerah.




Our sages (Talmud, Brochos 26b) learn from this Parsha, that Avraham established the Morning Prayer – Shacharis, as it says: (Bereyshis 19:27) “And Avraham came in the early morning to the place where he [had] stood before Hashem”. According to the Talmud (ibid) the word “stood” here refers to prayer. There are similar statements in the Talmud (ibid) regarding the afternoon and evening prayers (Mincha and Aravis). Mincha was instituted by Yitzchak and is hinted to in the verse: (Bereyshis 24:63) “And Yitzchak went out to walk[1] (Lasuach) in the field towards evening time”. The evening prayer was instituted by Yakov as it says: (Bereyshis 28:11) “And [Yakov] came upon the place [of the future Holy Temple] and he lay down there as the sun had already set”. Our sages knew why these verses refer to prayers, but there is hardly any hint in the verses themselves, so how can we understand the significance of these teachings[2]?




It is known that there were three special people, who stood at the root of our nation: Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov. They are the only ones, called “forefathers” (Talmud, Brochos 16b). Each of them had a special mission, and our nation had to come out of all of them. According to the Zohar (Tikuney Zohar, 69th Tikun, 105a, in GR”A’s edition 118b), their souls had to do with the soul of Adam and they actually rectified different parts of Adam’s sin. It took three generations, till the purification finished, and Yakov’s family fully belonged to the Jewish people[3]. We learn that the three forefathers instituted the three main prayers, and we will later discuss how each one corresponds to the prayer he founded, and what rectification this prayer accomplishes.


There is however another individual, whose soul was also collective and whose rectification was unique – King Dovid[4]. In fact the Talmud tells us (Sanhedrin 107a), that Dovid prayed that just as Hashem is called G-d of Avraham, G-d of Yitzchak, and G-d of Yakov, He should associate His name with Dovid as well. Dovid also instituted a prayer (Talmud, Brochos 3b), though it is not obligatory. It is called Tikun Chatzos (rectification of midnight) and can be pronounced after midnight till early dawn and it is recited while sitting.


We thus have a correspondence between four people, four prayers, four times and four actions, from which these prayers are learned (see the GR”A in Imrey Noam to the Talmud, Brochos, 8a and 26b, and in his commentary to Agada on the same pages, GR”A to Mishley 3:23 and 6:22, GR”A to the Zohar, Yahel Ohr 3:156b)[5]:








first half of the day




second half of the day




first half of the night

laying down


Tikun Chatzos

second half of the night



Let us first discuss the spiritual root of the forefathers and Dovid, so we can better understand these parallels. As we discussed on Parsahas Bereyshis, the Divine rule over the universe includes ten different channels. However, even more generally, the 10 Sefiros can be divided into just four groups. They are the so called “right” side of Hanhaga (Divine rule), consisting of three Sefiros; the “left” side, that also includes three Sefiros; the “middle” with another three Sefiros; and Malchus – Kingship. The last Sefira shows our readiness to receive the Good coming from Hashem. The collective combination of all Jewish souls is rooted in this Sefira. In general, the right side of Hanhaga has to do with kindness, the left – with judgment, and the middle – is a harmony between the two, a type of balance that includes both previous sides[6]. To summarize, even though there are ten particular types of Hanhaga, the four general ones include the entire spectrum (see our article BeginningofShulchanAruch.htm where we further discuss these concepts).  


Our forefathers and Dovid in fact represented these four types of Hanhaga. Avraham’s soul was rooted in Chesed (kindness). The Torah describes how he would try to help everyone, his house was always open to visitors and even the lowest travelers were served by Avraham himself. The only thing he asked in return was recognition of the rule of Hashem. In Avraham’s time, many people joined his household and accepted monotheism. Yitzchak’s soul was rooted in Gevurah (strength, judgment). He was ready to give up his own life during the Akeyda; he would spend long times meditating alone. Yakov included the qualities of his fathers and clung to Tiferes. At last, King Dovid was attached to Malchus (kingship). The four forefathers thus included a full rectification[7].


Now we can better understand what should be accomplished by the four prayers. The first half of the day is the time of kindness. The fact that the sunlight is increasing throughout this time is also an indication of the time of Chesed. When the Hanhaga is through Chesed, the people’s deeds are less important; during this Hanhaga, even the unworthy may receive the Divine Good. The longest of all prayers, Shacharis was instituted to rectify at this time, when many great rectifications are possible. Each day, we start serving Hashem anew, (sleeping is considered 1/60 of death, and we are recreated each morning, see Mishna Berura 4:3). Therefore the greatest rectification is need during this prayer (see Ramchal, Derech Hashem, 4:6; Kisvey Arizal in Shaar Hakavonos also discusses the great difference between the Tikun of Shacharis versus the other prayers). 


After midday the time of judgment is starting, while the world experiences diminishing of sun light. Two types of light are discussed in Kabala: Ohr Yashar (direct light) and Ohr Chozer (reflected light). The reflected light in this case is the readiness of people to receive the Divine Good. During the time of judgment, one can still receive from Above, but only if he is worthy. This is one of the reasons why the Talmud (Brochos 6b) tells us to be especially careful regarding Mincha prayer.


Aravis is instituted at night time. This prayer is less obligatory than the others (see Talmud, Brochos 27b; in fact, according to the Mishna Berura, 106:4, women are exempt from this prayer, see however Aruch Hashulchan 106:7). Since the main active Hanhaga is during the day, the Shacharis and Mincha make active rectifications, while Aravis is instituted during a more passive time of absorbing the day’s changes. At last, Tikun Chatzos is a totally nonobligatory prayer, but midnight is in general “Es Ratzon” (time of Divine favor, see Talmud, Evamos 72a), when the light of Chesed gets aroused before daybreak.  


Note, that the three main prayers instituted by the forefathers, are preferably recited in a synagogue, while Tikun Chatzos was instituted primarily for home. There are also four articles that were prepared for the prophet Elisha as it says (Melachim 2:4:9): “… let us put there a bed, a table, a chair and a lamp”. The GR”A (in his commentary Imrey Noam to the Talmud, Brochos, 8a) writes that these four articles also correspond to the four prayers. The lamp has to do with the right side, just as it stood in the Holy Temple; the table – to the left just as it stood in the Temple; the chair is in the middle (like the mizbeach in the Temple), and the bed has to do with Malchus. The first letters of the above four articles (Mita, Shulchan, Kise and Ner) for the word “M-SH-K-N” spelling Mishkan – sanctuary. The last three letters of this word (corresponding to the three prayers instituted by the forefathers) spell shochen – neighbor. This is how the GR”A explains the statement of the Talmud (Brochos, 8a) that the one who does not visit the synagogue in his city is called a bad neighbor. Since he does not come to pray the three main prayers in the Shul, he is missing the rectification of these three letters! May we soon merit that our prayers will be accepted in the “Miniature Temples” – our synagogues, and that we see the coming of Moshiach, when all Kosher Synagogues will be moved to the Holy Land (Talmud, Megila 29a).



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[1] According to Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Haksav Vehakabala the word “Lasuach” means walking between trees (Sichim), or even plating trees. Our sages say that the word hints to prayer, and so it comes from the word “Sicha” – conversation. At any rate, the word “prayer” is not openly mentioned in this verse.


[2] In general, our sages had a tradition that these specific words of these verses refer to prayer, based on a method called “Gezeira Shava” i.e. the meaning of these words is learned from other verses that use the same expression. However, as usual, these teachings have a much greater significance, as we will discuss.


[3] Interestingly, this had to do with the mistake of Yakov’s children in selling Yosef. They thought that Yosef wants to be the only true descendant of Yakov. Just as Avraham had Yishmoel and other children who were not included in the Jewish people; just as Yitzchak had Eisav who was rejected from the covenant; so too, they thought, Yosef was planning to take over, and reject them from the chosen family. The dreams of Yosef only supported this hypothesis, so they judged him as a usurper who was after their very existence, and as such they thought they had a right to act first and get rid of him.


[4] The soul of Moshe is even more exceptional and his prophesy was greater and clearer than of any other prophet, as the Torah testifies (Devarim, 34:10, see also Yevamos 49b, GR”A on Zohar, Yahel Ohr 2:248a). However, since he was on a different level, his rectification is not discussed here.


[5] There are other “fours” that parallel this correspondence: four Shabbos meals (as printed in the Siddurim) – three Shabbos meals associated with the three forefathers, and one after Shabbos, corresponding to Dovid; four cups of wine on Pesach Seder (Zohar Chadash, Ki Sisa), etc. However, we will only be discussing the above correlations for now, (for further discussion, see GR”A on Shir Hashirim, Derech Sod 1:1 , GR”A to Agados Brochos, 54b, GR”A in Aderes Eliyahu, Bemidbar, 23:24, 5th version).


[6] This is one of the reasons that the Torah was given on the “third” month, whose sign is “twins” – it includes the month of Nisan (kindness) and Iyar (judgment). Similarly, the words “Ki Tov” – it was good, are repeated twice on the “third” day of creation.

[7] Note also, that the four organs of senses in our heads (eyes, ears, nose and mouth) are rooted in these four types of Hanhaga. For this reason, after Shabbos is over, we need to rectify all four of them, to keep some of the holiness for the coming week. We make 4 brochos during Havdalah – on tasting, on smelling, on seeing, and the Havdala itself (on hearing) since this is the main brocha to hear. Whoever did not hear this brocha did not fulfill the obligation. Note, also that the first four sons of Yakov also included this general rectification. The name Reuben comes from seeing; Shimon – from hearing; Levi would in the future bring Temple offering of “appeasing fragrance” – smelling; Yehudah – thanking with the mouth. As the other 8 sons were born later, a more detail Tikun was accomplished.