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Spiritual Tools: L’Beit Yaakov: Praying about Torah Study

The 24th of Tammuz is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yaakov (ben Dov) Yosef (1840-1902). Born in Krozhe, a province of Kovno, he studied in the Volozhin yeshiva under the Netziv, where he was known as “Rav Yaakov Charif” because of his sharp mind. He was one of the foremost students of Rav Yisrael Salanter. In 1888, he accepted an invitation and became the first and only Chief Rabbi of New York, as elected by the Association of American Orthodox Hebrew Congregations. He also took an active role in establishing the Etz Chaim Yeshiva, founded in 1866. He authored Le’Bais Yaakov.


“When Rabbi Abba went up to Israel, he said: “May it be the will of God that I may say something which is acceptable.” (Beitzah 38a) The prayer failed, as the Talmud reports that his companions laughed at his rulings.

Rabbi Abba felt that it was more important to share his rulings, and therefore, rather than pray that he arrive at the correct conclusion when studying, prayed that he be successful in sharing his learning.

His prayers were not answered to teach him that one should only pray to arrive at the truth, and then, his rulings will be accepted.

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