Monday, November 13, 2006

Some Prayers Should Be Private

I saw a vort by the Satmar Rov on this last week’s parsha which is pertinent to a contemporary issue.

After the destruction of Sodom, Avraham awoke early and returned to the spot he had previously stood before Hashem. (Ber. 19:27) Chazal tell us that he returned to pray to Hashem (Berakhos 6b) from which we learn the importance of having a set place to pray. Apparently Avraham intended to return to his place of prayer and continue asking for mercy for the people of Sdom.

Why did he wait till the next morning? The Satmar Rov brought a source (I forget where) that he was following the halakha that a talmid chacham may not go out alone at night (Berakhos 43b). He then asked the following: why didn’t Avraham simply take someone along with him? After all, by the Akeida we see he took along two “nearim” and we know Avraham had a substantial household. So why not simply take along a servant or two as accompaniment?

He answered: Avraham was planning on davening for mercy for the people of Sdom. Now while that is a great mitzvah, at the same time there was a danger that someone in his household would observe this and the grave sins of Sdom would seem less severe to this person. The chinuch of his household would not allow that. Hence, he waited to the morning to return alone to the place he prayed before and to try again for Divine mercy.

So while even the most wicked deserve our prayers for Divine mercy, these should be private prayers. Making a public spectacle of such prayers risks a grave chinuch mistake – there are those who will believe the sin is not so bad.

Ha mavin yavin.

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