QUESTION: The Gemara tells us that one should always include himself with
the rest of Yisrael in his prayers; i.e. his prayers should always be in
the plural (*our* G-d, help *us*...), so that they should be heeded by
Hashem. Why, then, do we find that some of our prayers, such as Birchas
ha'Mapil (Berachos 60b), are still said in the singular?
ANSWER: Perhaps the blessing of ha'Mapil is different since it begins with
*praises* to Hashem for what Hashem gives the person. This may be said in
the singular. When the blessing continues with the *request* that Hashem
put us safely to rest for the night, we continue with the singular, since
the blessing was already started with the singular. The blessing of Tefilas
ha'Derech begins immediately with requests from Hashem, so it may be said
in the plural. (The blessing of ha'Ma'avir Sheina in the morning also
begins with praise in the singular, but it continues with requests in the
plural. The reason for this is that the requests are not in the least
related to the praise with which the blessing began, so it cannot be viewed
as a true continuation.) -M. Kornfeld
QUESTION: Rebbi Yirmeyah looked too happy; Rebbi Zeira tried to somber him
by mentioning the virtues of melancholy. What looks like a simple incident
in their lives, actually reflects different general approaches to life.
The CHAVAS YAIR (#152, cited at the end of Sefer Chafetz Chayim) suggests
that Rebbi Zeira and Rebbi Yirmeyah each had a very different path in
Avodas Hashem. They continually debated whether abstinence is commendable
Rebbi Zeira understood that fasting and self-affliction is the correct way
to reach Kedushah. We find that he fasted long periods. He would test
himself with all kinds of self-afflictions to test his total devotion to
Hashem (Bava Metzia end of 85a).
Rebbi Yirmeyah, on the other hand, was generally jolly. He ruled that it is
forbidden for a person to afflict himself beyond the call of the Torah, as
those who maintained that a Nazir is called a Chotei (Nedarim 9).
The Gemara in Nidah 23a tells how Rebbi Yirmeyah, in accordance with his
path in Avodas Hashem, would try and break Rebbi Zeira's somberness since
he thought this was an incorrect path in Avodas Hashem. In our Gemara,
Rebbi Zeira tried -- unsuccessfully -- to cool Rebbi Yirmeyah's joyousness,
in accordance with his own path in Avodas Hashem.