Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Do Angels Understand Aramaic? Part 2

In this previous post we quoted the gemara that says that one should not pray in aramaic because angels don't understand aramaic. We asked from R' Ovadiah Yosef - shouldn't one direct his tefillos straight to Hashem?

R' Ovadiah Yosef answered that b'tzibbur, indeed, all tefillos are directed only to Hashem. However, b'yichidus one could direct the tefillos to angels to act as mediators to Hashem. He proves this from the fact that we daven at kivrei avos. The idea is, again, that we don't mind having the tzaddikim "deliver" the tefillos to Hashem.

We mentioned that the Briskers are very machmir not to ever ask the angels to act as mediators to Hashem. For this reason they do not say Malachei Rachamim. The question is what do they do with the gemara that one shouldn't pray in Aramaic because the angels don't understand aramiac? In the comments Josh Waxman (homepage) suggests the following answer for that gemara:

Of course one only addresses Hashem in tefillot. But, completely without being asked to, the angels "pick up" those prayers and deliver them and present them before Hashem. And one should not daven to angels, even as "mediators."If in Aramaic, the angels would not recognize the words as prayers, or else would not be able to repeat them, or some such idea.

So one can never ask other beings to deliver the prayers to Hashem - thus explaining the Brisker chumrah. However, on some metaphysical level the angels "pick up" the prayers and deliver them to Hashem anyway (however exactly that works and whatever that means). If you want to see more you can read the comments to that post here.