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The Music of Halacha: Untying The Knot II

We have studied two approaches to prayer, (The Music of Halacha: Untying The Knot) that of tying, and that of untying. We followed a person who, in the process of examining his prayers, is searching for a new form of prayer. We went from untying back to tying.

There are two major categories of prohibited knots: “Kesher Uman,” or, a craftsman’s knot, and “Kesher shel Kayama,” a permanent knot. A skillfully executed knot that is very firm, such as a “Camel Driver’s Knot,” or a “Sailor’s Knot,” is a Kesher Uman. A less skillfully executed knot that is intended to last permanently is a Kesher Shel Kayama, even if it will unravel over time.

Both of these categories of knots address common issues we have with prayer: We observe great rabbis and holy men praying and we wish we could pray as do they. We assume that they are skilled craftsmen of prayer. Many of us feel that our prayers are inadequate in comparison.

There are times in our lives when we turn to prayer when a situation seems hopeless, as when a doctor says, “He’s in God’s hands.” We plead.  We make deals and promises. We pray with increased passion and intensity only to wonder whether God listens when our prayers are not a “Kesher Shel Kayama,” a reflection of a permanent change in our prayers.

The halachot of Koshair address these concerns. A firm knot, even if not tied with a craftsman’s skill has the status of a “Kesher Uman,” a craftsman’s knot. The skill is not what defines the Kesher Uman. The strength of the knot is the criterion. The skill of the prayer is not what defines it as a craftsman’s prayer.        

A “Kesher Shel Kayama” is not defined by how long it lasts. The only issue is the intention of the person tying the knot.  A prayer is not measured by how long its effect lasts on the person; but on his intention.

When Rashi and the Maharzu compare prayer to tying and untying a knot they are teaching us that we must learn and apply the Halachot of all knots; Shabbat, Tefillin, Tzitzit,  and, of course, prayer. They are all connected. They are all part of the unity of Torah. That is the Music of Halacha.

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