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Avodah Zarah, Daf Dalet, Part 5
Reading for Thursday
, July 13
Avodah Zarah 4-5


תנא משמיה דר”מ בשעה שהמלכים מניחין כתריהן בראשיהן ומשתחוין לחמה מיד כועס [הקב”ה].


It was taught in the name of R. Meir: At the hour when the kings place their crowns on their heads and bow down to the sun, immediately the Holy Blessed One becomes wrathful.


God’s moment of wrath occurs at the hour of the morning when kings put on their crowns and bow down to the sun.


אמר רב יוסף לא ליצלי איניש צלותא דמוספי בתלת שעי קמייתא דיומא ביומא קמא דריש שתא ביחיד דלמא כיון דמפקיד דינא דלמא מעייני בעובדיה ודחפו ליה מידחי.


Joseph said: One should not recite the Musaf prayer during the first three hours of the day on the first day of the New Year in private, lest, since judgment is then proceeding, his deeds may be scrutinized and the prayer rejected.


Judgement is dished out during the first three hours of the day, when kings wake up, put on their crowns and bow down to the sun. Since God tends to be angry at this time, an individual should not pray the Musaf prayer for Rosh Hashanah lest God examine his deeds too closely and judge him accordingly.


אי הכי דצבור נמי! דצבור נפישא זכותיה.


But if that be so, the same should apply to the congregation! The [collective] merits of a congregation are greater.


The congregation (minyan) can pray at that time because the collective merits of the community are sufficient.


אי הכי דיחיד דצפרא נמי לא! כיון דאיכא צבורא דקא מצלו לא קא מדחי.


If so, the same should be true with regard to the morning prayer!

Since there is a congregation praying at the same time, the prayer will not be rejected.


One can pray shacharit, the morning prayer, as an individual knowing that some congregation somewhere will be praying at that time.


והא אמרת שלש ראשונות הקב”ה יושב ועוסק בתורה! איפוך.

ואיבעית אימא לעולם לא תיפוך תורה דכתיב בה אמת דכתיב (משלי כג, כג) “אמת קנה ואל תמכור אין הקב”ה עושה לפנים משורת הדין דין דלא כתיב ביה אמת הקב”ה עושה לפנים משורת הדין:


But have you not said, “During the first three hours the Holy Blessed One is occupying Himself with the Torah, during the second three He sits in judgment over the whole world”?  Reverse [the order];

Or if you want you may say it need not be reversed: The Torah, about which it is written “truth,” as it is written, “Buy the truth and sell it not,” (Proverbs 23:23) the Holy Blessed One will not go beyond the letter of the law; judgment, about which it is not written “truth,” the Holy Blessed One may go beyond the letter of the law [towards mercy].


Earlier we said that God sits in judgment during the second three hours of the day, not the first. So why not pray during the first three hours, when we could assume that God’s mercy would be greater?

There are two ways of solving the problem. The first is to switch the order of what God does at what time during the day.

The second is to note that it would be better to pray when God is not studying Torah. Torah is “truth”—there is no hiding what one has done. It is absolute, without any mercy. But “judgment” can involve a measure of mercy. Thus it would be better to pray when God is acting as a judge, one involved in the lives of humans, then as something akin to a philosopher, who only cares about absolute truth and justice.