Chelkat Yehoshua: The Two Gates Before Prayer
The 21st of Shevat is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yechiel Yehoshua Rabinowitz, the Bialer Rebbe (1901-1982). Born in Biala, Poland, to Rav Yerachmiel Tzvi, the son of the Divrei Binah of Biala and a direct descendent of the Yid Hakadosh. The Divrei Binah passed away when Yechiel Yehoshua was only 4, and tragically, Rav Yerachmiel Tzvi passed away shortly thereafter at the age of 26.
In 1919, Rav Yechiel married Beila Chana Pesha, and in 1924, he was formally installed as Rebbe of Biala, and set up court in Shidlitz, with a population of 200,000 Jews. He was exiled to Siberia with his family in 1940.
In 1947, he moved to Eretz Yisrael, living in Tel Aviv for 8 years before setting up his beis midrash and kollel in Zichron Moshe in Yerushalayim, where he remained for the next 27 years. He authored the sefer Chelkas Yehoshua.
A successful prayer depends on the Sh’mirat Halashon and Sh’mirat HaBrit – Guarding one’s tongue and one’s urges.
As the B’eir Mayim Chayim teaches that one who is not careful with his speech in general is considered to be bringing a gift to the King, his prayers, in a filthy vessel.
This is what the Sages mean when they teach that one who rays must keep his eyes downward and his heart upward: His eyes below refers to his guarding his urges, His heart upward, refers to paying attention to what comes out of his mouth. He must keep his eyes and heart focused all the time in order for his prayers to be effective.
This is also what the Sages mean when they teach that a person must “enter two gates before praying: One is the Gate of holiness of his mouth and the other is the Gate of Holiness of his urges.