Tachanun 4

In last week’s segment, we briefly discussed the importance and power of “N’filas Apayim” (falling on our face), better known to us as Tachanun.

In the last segment, we noted Rabbeinu Bachya who writes that one who is pained and/or exhibits humility, both primary components in the t’shuvah process, falls on his face. As a result, his tefilah will be accepted and HaKadosh Baruch Hu will be concerned about his pain and will fulfill his request. We also noted the Radak and the Shelah HaKadosh who write that the tefilos of one who is ill and recites Tachanun (the Shelah said this about Perek 6 of T’hilim, where most of Tachanun comes from) with a broken and pained heart, his tefilos will surely be accepted.

Let us now look at Rabbeinu Bachya’s three kavanos to which we made reference in the last segment. We should be mindful of these three points as we are about to recite Tachanun and/or as we recite the p’sukim. The first point we should have in mind is awe of the Sh’chinah. One who covers his face is acting in a way of humility, feeling the presence of the Sh’chinah before him.

The second point to have in mind is that one who falls on his face is pained and exhibits humility, which is a primary factor in t’shuvah. As a result, his tefilah will be accepted and HaKadosh Baruch Hu will be concerned about his pain and will fulfill his request.

Lastly, one who falls on his face, thereby covering his eyes and mouth, is agreeing in his mind that he is unable to accomplish anything without Hashem. He does not even truly know what is best for him. He is completely dependent on Hashem. This is similar to the idea of our keeping our feet together during Shemoneh Esrei. We indicate that we are tied up, so to speak. We have no independent power and ability.

What all three kavanos have in common is that they are all about reflecting our humility through recognition of the awesomeness of Hashem and recognizing that we are far from our ultimate goal of coming close to Hashem. But that yearning to come close to Hashem, along with the recognition that we are still far from where we want to be, in and of itself, brings us closer to Hashem.

HaRav Shlomo Wolbe explained as follows:

In N’filas Apayim, we come together with Hashem with all our lowliness and aveiros. We ask for compassion on our situation:

רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן חָטָֽאתִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ. ה' מָלֵא רַחֲמִים, רַחֵם עָלַי וְקַבֵּל תַּחֲנוּנָי

(Hashem) the Merciful One (Who has mercy on sinners to lessen their punishment) and Gracious One (Who grants requests even when we are undeserving), I have sinned before You. Hashem, Who is full of mercy, have mercy on me and accept my supplications.

As a result, Hashem will be concerned with our pain, accept our tefilos, and fulfill our request.

The Siach Yitzchak explains that one can (and should) also think about the pains of klal Yisrael as a whole. Unfortunately, there are many tzaros out there: national, communal, and individual. As we understand the p’sukim that we are saying and the emotions that they are expressing, we will come to understand why this tefilah, if said with kavanah and emotion, has so much potential to help ourselves and all of klal Yisrael.

We will see towards the end of Tachanun that David expresses his bitachon that Hashem will hear and accept his cries, his pleading, and his tefilah. The same applies to us, as well, as noted in the commentary of Rabbeinu Bachya, the Radak, and the Shelah HaKadosh cited above.

In light of the past two segments, we men should consider rethinking the all-too-common feeling about desiring to skip Tachanun. Do we really want to miss out on this great opportunity that we have daily?

[This segment comes mostly from the sefer L’fanav Naavod, written by Rav Ephraim Fordsham, based on the vaadim on tefilah of HaRav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l and based on the vaadim of HaRav Gamliel Rabinowitz shlita.]