Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022

Taanis 24: The Traveler’s Prayer

On this daf, we find that the kohein gadol would specify in his prayer in the Kodesh Kodoshim that Hashem should not hearken to the prayer of travelers. We must wonder why. Although we can understand that a person on the road is inconvenienced by the rain and would call out for it to end, why is it so crucial that the kohein gadol specify this situation in his brief prayer?

The Rebbe of Kuzmir explains that being on the road presents its own challenges. When a traveler then gets caught in a downpour and becomes soaked to the skin, his prayers are said in complete earnestness. That prayer is infused with his whole self, and it has the power to ascend directly to the heavens, bypassing all barriers. It is understood that no prayer in the world could stand up to such a heartfelt plea…except the prayer of the kohein gadol on Yom Kippur in the Kodesh Hakodoshim. It takes that much to obstruct the prayer of a broken-hearted Jew.

Once, there was a severe drought in Teveria, and there was not enough rain to change the water in the mikvah. The rabbis of the city decreed that since the water needed to be spared for emergency use, no man could use the mikvah. At that time, a certain chossid lived in Teveria, and he was very dedicated to immersing twice a day, once at midnight before praying Tikkun Chatzos, and once at midday before Mincha. Right after the rabbis made their decision, this chossid arrived for his usual midday immersion, but the mean-spirited attendant jeered at him, “By tonight, you won’t be able to immerse anymore—the rabbis have forbidden it!” This chossid was heartbroken at the prospect of losing his opportunity to purify himself, and began to cry and pray over his loss. “Master of the world! It isn’t bad enough we have to ration our water. Will You deny me my ability to purify myself too?”

Much to the joy of the people of Teveria, that very day the heavens opened and there was a huge rainstorm. Naturally, the rabbis cancelled their decree (Margoliyos HaShas).

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