Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prayer vs. Study (Sect. 590)

R. Jeremiah was seated before R. Zera, and both were engaged in Halakhah. Evening drew near, the time for prayer arrived, and R. Jeremiah insisted on reciting it. R. Zera then applied to him the verse "He that turneth away his ear from hearing Torah, even his prayer is an abomination" (Prov. 28:9).
Does this indicate that the requirement for prayer was late in developing?


Richard Friedman said...

Not necessarily. There may well have been a requirement to daven, but being engaged in Torah study may have provided an exemption from that obligation. (Ha'osek b'mitzva patur mimitzva -- one who is engaged in one mitzva is exempt from another mitzva.) I am not sure but what such an exemption exists in codified halacha even today.

Howard said...

Richard could be right. But even taking into account the Rabbis tendency toward hyperbole, the statement is very strong. I have certainly seen scholars in the Orthodox community stop studying to daven.

Also a statement like that might indicate that the issue was still being debated and therefore deserving of a strong response to strengthen the case.