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    Who Should Be Baal Tefillah

    The Gemara in Yevamos, daf samech daled tells us that Hashem listened to the tefillah of Yitzchok and not to the tefillah of Rivkah. The tefillah of a tzaddik who is the son of a tzaddik cannot be compared to the tefillah of a tzaddik who is the son of a rasha.

    The Taz in Orach Chaim, siman nun gimmel, seif koton gimel quotes the Maharshal who says that if two baalei tefillah are equal in all aspects, but one of them is a meyuchas and one is not, the meyuchas gets kedima. This would seem to concur with the Gemara mentioned above that a tzaddik ben tzaddik is better than a tzaddik ben rasha. The Taz argues with this and says based on a Rosh that it is better to be mekarev the one without yichus to be closer to the shechina because we know that all Hashem wants is the “lev.” The Gemara in Berachos, daf lamed daled, amud bais learns from a posuk in Yeshaya, Perek Nun Zayin, posuk yud tes: “Shalom Shalom larochoik ve’lakarov.” The posuk mentions the rachok before the karov.

    How does the Taz reconcile the Gemara in Yevamos with the Gemara in Brochos? The Taz has a strong proof from the Gemara in Taanis, daf chof heh amud bais that discusses the following scenario. Reb Eliezer davened for rain and the rains did not come. Reb Akiva subsequently davened for rain and the rains came. A bas kol came out and said that the reason Reb Akiva was answered and not Reb Eliezer is not because Reb Akiva was greater; they were both equal in stature, but Reb Akiva had one maaleh that he was “maavir al midosav.” He did not seek revenge and accepted rebuke. We know that Reb Akiva was a ger; nevertheless Reb Akiva was answered and not the tzaddik ben tzaddik. It could be that the Taz is saying that if the tzaddik ben Rasha has better middos, he should daven, and not the tzaddik ben tzaddik.

    We find a contradiction in the Tur. In siman nun gimmel in Hilchos Tefilah he paskens that a tzaddik ben rasha comes first when it comes to davening for the amud. However, in hilchos Taanis, siman taf kuf ayin tes he paskens that a tzaddik ben tzaddik should rather be the baal tefillah. We could explain it based on the way the Brisker Rov differentiates when Yaakov said he got land with “be’charbi uve’kashti” (sword and arrow). The Targum explains this as “biv-oisi u’bitfilasi-” with my supplications and davening. He explains the difference between kashti and charbi. A sword can kill by itself as long as you just stab someone with it, whereas an arrow by itself can’t kill unless you shoot it with accuracy from afar. The Tefillah of the Anshei Knesses Ha’Gedolah has its own power; therefore as long as you say it with kavana it is effective. Therefore, one who is a tzaddik ben rasha will take preference over a tzaddik ben tzaddik if his kavana is superior because he has “lev.” In a case of added tefillos, like when there may be a lack of rain; a little push is needed and may be compared to an arrow that can only work from afar. This requires a tzaddik ben tzaddik to help the supplications be effective unless one is like Reb Akiva who had the great midda of maavir al midoisav thereby obligating Hashem to be maavir al midoisav as well. That is why in hilchos Tefillah it is better to have a tzaddik ben rasha but in hilchos Taanis which is added tefillos we would need the tzaddik ben tzaddik.