When the Malach of Aisav gave Yaakov the beracha of a new name, that he should be from now on called ישראל because שרית you overpowered an angel and man, he wasn’t blessing Yaakov for the sake of blessing. Rather, his intention was to compliment Yaakov of his spiritual victory which he hoped would lead Yaakov to self -pride and haughtiness. The Sefer Panin Yafos compares the Malach of Aisav’s declaration to Yaakov on the same par of the Chazal that says (Berachos 32b) that having עיון תפלה  is not a good thing. Rashi explains עיון תפלה  to mean that one feels that he davened with so much kavannah that he is sure that Hashem will answer him. When his tefillah is not answered he becomes very disappointed to the point that he is in pain and anguish. Tosfos interprets עיון תפלה  differently.  It is referring to one who doesn’t delve into the meaning of the words of tefillah and he therefore recites them with the lack of spirit and  kavanah.

The Panin Yafos explains that both interpretations are right and they are both employed by the yetzerharah and the Malach of Aisav. Before the ShemonehEsrai the YetzerHarah seeks to remove one’s kavanah from davening by distracting him from having עיון תפלה concentration and focus. When the yetzerharah sees that he is not successful in this endeavor, it is after one completes his ShemonehEsrai that he compliments the mispallel of what a super davening he just experienced. The sole intention of the yetzer is to cause him to become arrogant and egotistical, thereby building an immediate distance between himself and Hashem.

With the same plan the Malach of Aisav strove to trap Yaakov Avinu during his battle with him. First he tried to overpower him spiritually by taking away his deveikus from Hashem. When he realized he could not victimize him in this fashion, the Malach employed the second strategy of complimenting Yaakov to the hilt כי שרית עם אלהים ואנשים  how sensational he was for overpowering the even a Malach of Aisav. With this strategy the Malach hoped that Yaakov would be possessed by the thought of gaavah through which his present spiritual victory would be defiled and lost.

Let us continue this trend of thought and talk about our own personal challenge of davening. The AnsheiKenesesHagadolah fixed at the beginning of ShemonehEsrai the passuk אדני שפתי תפתח ופי יגיד תהלתיך. The reason for this is in order to avoid the strategy of the yetzerharah who comes to be מבלבלdistract us from having kavanah while davening. It is for this reason that we beseech Hashem for His hashgacha to open our lips so that they will eloquently recite the praises of Hashem with proper and heartfelt words.

At the end of the Shemoneh Esrai we add on the tefillah of אלהי נצור לשוני מרעin which we say beseech Hashem יהיו לרצון אמרי פי that my words should be wanting before You which conveys that one is uncertain if his tefillah was up to par and therefore is not guaranteed that it is for sure accepted. ונפשי כעפר לכל תהיה   that I should feel humble as the earth, and we also add a tefillah for YirasShamayim ושם נעבדך ביראה  all of which possesses the character of humility, humbleness, and non entitlement. This is to ward off the plotting of yetzerharah that comes after our tefillah to make us feel smug, content, and haughty for our great tefillah that we just davened.

In the BirkasHatorah that we mention the Mishnah אלו הדברים אשר אין להם שיעור in which we list off הלווית המת ועיון תפלה . IyunTefillah is juxtaposed to the mitzvah of accompanying a deceased person. According to the above explanation we can say that the connection between the two is that accompanying the dead has two purposes. One is kovidhameis giving honor to the deceased. The second reason is to remind us יזכור יום המיתה for it will protect one from the yetzerharah. No one can escape death no matter how righteous one is. Everyone is buried under ground and therefore we must make a cheshbonhanefesh sooner than later.

These two reasons parallel the two strategies of Iyun Tefillah with which the yetzerharah who is also the MalachHamaves attacks us during our tefillos. Before the ShemonehEsrai he challenges us with the prophetic knowledge that our tefillah doomed to be DOA Dead On Arrival. He says you won’t have any kavannah, it will only be lip service and therefore worthless. If that doesn’t work then at the end of our tefillos even if they were a quality of high standard with heart and kavannah, the yetzerharah further attacks us with amazing kovid and lavish praises about our max level of tefilla and how much superior our tefillos super cede most people in the shul. He tries to make us haughty after our good deeds so the gaavah that we then possess will make us separated from Hashem and defile our tefillah.

We can apply these two tactics of the yetzerharah to the words והסר שטן מלפנינו ומאחרינו  which we daven during Maariv; remove the yetzerharah from in front of us and from in back of us. In front of us is before we start daveningwhen we begin ShemonehEsrai and walk three steps forwards. It is then that we ask Hashem to help us have kavannah to make a proper tefillah. To remove the yetzerharah from in back of us is when we step backwards after we finish the ShemonehEsrai when the yetzer’s strategy is to flatter and fill us with pride for having davened such a superb tefillah.

This same theme is repeated in the parsha when Yaakov davened to Hashem הצליני נא מיד אחי מיד עשו  save me from my brother Aisav. Why did the passukmention that Aisav was his brother, such an obvious fact? The meforshimexplain that Aisav who personifies the evil of the Nachash, can approach a Yid in two methods in order to trip him up. One way is as his by flaunting “brotherly” love, and the other to attack as his enemy. As one’s fierce opponent, one has the choice of fright or flight. However in the scenario of sinister deceit posing as your brother who speaks to you as a friend and your benefactor, giving advice for your own good, creates a more dangerous confrontation.

This that the yetzer comes to a person before he is about to daven in order to remove his enthusiasm by flooding him with all kinds of foreign thoughts, is מיד עשו . Before he even begins to daven the yetzerharah tries to make a person fall into yiush and despair that his tefillah will be trashed. To this claim we must respond with אזני שפתי תפתח that I beseech help from Hasem to help me open my lips and daven properly without distracting thoughts.

If the yetzer harah fails to be successful with this strategy, he returns incognito at the end of davening and exalts the wonderful davening you just had including in his accolades your ability to ignore his yetzer harah and still daven with kavvanah. This מיד אחי approach is only to bring the davener to gaavahand haughtiness. To this we must respond ונפשי כעפר לכל תהיה  even to theה’ צורי וגואלי it is You that must redeem me for my tefillah is insufficient.

We find that two individuals in Tehlillim who are specifically related to tefillahתפלה למשה תפלה לדוד.  Both of them demonstrated that their special daveningwas not sabotaged by the yetzerhara before or after. The tefillah of Moshe parallels the opening verse of ShemonehEsrai אדוני שפתי תפתח ופי יגיד תהלתך . For when Moshe was davening to Hashem to allow him to enter EretzYisrael,the passuk says ואתחנן אל ה’ בעת ההיא לאמר. The Kedushas Levi asks that the word לאמר  in this context “to say” seems inappropriate. Usually the word לאמר  means to say over to Am Yisrael Hashem’s command. However here, what exactly is Moshe Rabbeinu supplicating before Hashem to say over to whom? The Kedushas Levi answers that the לאמר in the passuk serves as the function of אדני שפתי תפתח that Moshe davens a tefillah before his tefillah and request. That pre tefillah is ואתחנן אל ה’ לאמר  for Hashem to help him choose the  right words to say and ask  Hashem to enter EretzYisrael. It is Moshe’s tefillahwhich reveals that he refuses to listen to the yetzerharah before he davens to get him down and out by telling him that his davening will be inappropriate anyway so why daven at all.

Another aspect of Moshe’s same tefillah is that he davened 515 tefillos the gematriah of ואתחנן. Imagine 515 tefillos and each one possessed the same nature of  ואתחנן which Rashi explains that Moshe was asking from Hashem חן חנם  a gift as if he wasn’t deserving of it. One would think that after so many tefillos he should feel some entitlement to be listened to by Hashem. However, Moshe did not feel that way and the 514thtefilllah was like the first time he davened asking for a present from Hashem to allow him to enter EretzYisrael. We see that Moshe also did not have the negative עיון תפלה of looking at himself in such self- high esteem that no one could have ever davened as much and as qualitative as him and therefore he deserves to be answered by Hashem.

TefilllahLeDovid ; Dovid said on himself ואני תפלה  that his entire essence was tefillahDovidHamelech spells his name with the letters דלת וו דלת . We will interpret his name in the backdrop of עיון תפלה. The first letter דלת alludes to the word דל someone who is poor, not only in the financial sense but also with his spiritual deeds as well. Dovid turns to Hashem with the passuk he himself wrote  אדני שפתי תפתח give me the right words to daven before you. The second letter of his name is vov a letter which is a connector of ideas and words. It represents the connection to Hashem which is tefillah. Yet even after he davens to Hashem a good tefillah, he remains with another letter דלת which symbolizes he is still not worthy of entitlement to receive Hashem’s berachos. He will not allow himself to fall prey into the middah of gaavah by listening to the yetzerharah that his daveining was marvelous and no one could excel in it more than him.

דוד and משה are gematriah 359 gematriah .שטן  They both had exceptional tefillosfrom beginning to end and did not allow the yetzer harah and Satan weaken their tefillos with their evil strategies that ruin one’s tefillos.

 The inner letters of the word of אדם  is לפ לת מ  which spells מתפלל . How does one’s davening relate to ?אדם the letters אדם  are the acronym אלף דוד משה  . The letter אלף symbolizes Hashem the אלף and beginning of everything. Both דוד  and משה demonstrated to us the proper attitude to have for tefillah which we will call altitude דברים העומדים ברומו של עולם. In the beginning of the Shemoneh Esrai we ask Hashem to fight off the Satan and help us have kavanah to say the right words. At the end of the Shemoneh Esrai we ask Hashem to “gift” us with an answer to our requests not with an entitlement. With such tefillos under the direction and example of משה  and דוד we can be zoche for the geulah shelaimah with משיח  who (with the word) is gematriahמשה  of  `andדוד  .

Gut Shabbos,

Rav Brazil