NEW YORK (Yaakov M / VINnews) — The month of Nissan is here. Some may feel relieved to get a “break” from Tachanun.
And to be honest, it’s not just a Nissan thing. Throughout the year, when there’s a Bris Milah taking place in shul, especially on a Monday or Thursday, there may be a tendency to not be terribly disappointed, Sometimes people even look for excuses to avoid Tachanun.
I get it. It’s human nature. I’m guilty of it myself. But it’s not something to be proud of, flaunt, or pump our fists about.
The feeling of relief is a shortcoming, a flaw, for which we should feel at least somewhat ashamed or embarrassed. It’s certainly not something to boast about on social media.
It may be hard to appreciate the immensely penetrating power of Tachanun, yet we should strive to feel it. Tachanun is extremely powerful and sacred, and it should not be a burden.
To feel its power, you can start by reading the words, which are nothing short of riveting.
Here is an excerpt:
“Favor me, Hashem, for I am feeble, heal me Hashem, for my bones shudder. I am worn out from my sighing, every night I drench my bed; with my tears, I soak my couch. Depart from me, all evildoers, for Hashem has heard the sound of my weeping.”
That’s pretty powerful.
When we do Nefilas Apayim, placing our heads on our arm, it symbolizes the rare experience of supplication before Hashem. We specifically lean on our left because that is the right side of the Shechina which we are facing. Think about that. We are supplicating ourselves opposite the Shechina.
The Gemara in Bava Metzia relates that after Rabban Gamliel placed Rabbi Eliezer in cherem, Rabbi Eliezer’s wife, the sister of R Gamliel, would not allow him to do Nefilas Apayim – bow his head down for Tachanun.
One day she failed to stop him, and when she found him face down on his arm reciting Tachanun, she screamed for him to get up, because he is “killing her brother!”
And that is exactly what happened. Now, that situation was unique. R’ Eliezer was in distress, and his Tachanun was unusually potent. These were Tanaim and their actions were purely L’Shem Shamayim.
But the message is clear. R Eliezer’s wife did not prevent him from saying other tefilos.
She recognized that Tachanun has a unique power, and we should do everything we can to unlock its potential. Imagine the good we can accomplish, if we say Tachanun with the proper kavanna?
The Mishna Berura says that a choson during Sheva Brachos should avoid going to shul and causing the Tzibbur to not say Tachanun. Clearly the ideal mindset is not to rejoice or feel relieved, but to feel the vacuum of a missed golden opportunity.
And this month, during its absence–we should strive to feel a void, and although this is a month of celebration, we should look forward to the time when we will have the opportunity to once again recite this powerful Tefila.
Yaakov M studied in Kollel 14 years, was a Bais Medrash Rebbi over a decade, and obtained smicha from a top Rosh Yeshiva. (Opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect Daas Torah.)
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