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Two mashal (parable משל ) on prayer (1-14)
(1) The mashal (parable משל ) of the Persistent Widow (18:1-8)
18:1 And he spoke a mashal (parable משל ) to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
18:2He said, “There was a judge in a certain city who neither feared Elohim nor respected people.
18:3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying,
‘Give me justice against my opponent.’
18:4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not Elohim, nor regard man;
18:5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'"
18:6And Adonay said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says.
18:7 And will not Elohim give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?
18:8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
18:9 And he spoke this mashal (parable משל) to certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
18:10 Two men went up into Beit HaMikdash to pray; the one a Prush, and the other a moches (tax collector).
18:11 The Prush stood and prayed thus with himself, Elohim, I thank you, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this moches (tax collector).
18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
18:13 And the moches (tax collector), standing afar off, would not raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast saying:
Adonai rachem na al choteh Kamoni
"Elohim be favour to me a sinner".
18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
(Mat 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16)
18:15 And they brought to him also infants, that he would touch them: but when [his] talmidim saw [it], they rebuked them.
18:16 But Yehoshua (יהושע) called them [to him], and said, Suffer little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Malkut Elohim.
18:17 Truly I say to you,
Whosoever shall not receive the Malkut Elohim as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
18:18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, tov Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
(Mattityahu 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31, cp Luke 10:25-37)
18:19 So Yehoshua (יהושע) said to him,
"Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, Elohim.
18:20 You know the commandments:
Do not commit adultery,
Do not kill,
Do not steal,
Do not bear false witness,
Honour your father and your mother.
18:21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
18:22 Now when Yehoshua (יהושע) heard these things, He said to him,
"You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, Follow Me.."
18:23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
18:24 And when Yehoshua (יהושע) saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Malkut Elohim!
18:25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Malkut Elohim."
18:26 And they that heard [it] said, Who then can be saved?
18:27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with Elohim.
18:28 Then Kefa said, hinnei, we have left all, and followed you.
18:29 And Yehoshua (יהושע) said to them,
Truly I say to you:
There is no man that has left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the Malkut Elohim's sake,
18:30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
18:31 Then he took [to him] the twelve, and said to them, hinnei, we go up to Yerushalayim, and all things that are written by the Neviim concerning the Ben haAdam (בן־האדם) shall be accomplished.
18:32 For He shall be delivered to the Goyim, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
18:33 And they shall scourge [him], and put him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.
18:34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
18:35 And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh to Yericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:
18:36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.
18:37 And they told him, that Yehoshua (יהושע) of Nazaret passes by.
18:38 And he cried, saying, Yehoshua (יהושע), BEN Davyid, have mercy on me.
18:39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, "BEN Davyid, have mercy on me!"
18:40 And Yehoshua (יהושע) stood, and commanded him to be brought to him: and when he was come near, he asked him,
18:41 saying, "What do you want Me to do for you?" He said, "Adon, that I may receive my sight."
18:42 And Yehoshua (יהושע) said to him, Receive your sight: your emunah has saved you.
18:43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying Elohim: and all the people, when they saw [it], gave praise to Elohim.
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Beating his breast = The beating the chest in prayer is the Jewish "Mea culpa". It is self-flagellation in a typical Jewish religious practice. On Yom Kippur, we recite the Ahshamnu (We have sinned) and Al Chet (for the sin of...) and in true symbolic fashion, with clenched fist, strike one own breast over the heart with the recitation of each sin or impropriety we have committed.Yeshayahu 66:2 Didn't I myself make all these things? This is how they all came to be," says ADONAI. "The kind of person on whom I look with favor is one with a poor and humble spirit, who trembles at my word.
Yirmeyahu 31:19 Yes, I turned away; but later I repented. When I had been made to understand, I struck my thigh in shame and remorse, bearing the weight of the disgrace acquired when I was young.'
The Ahshamnu has 24 expressions of sin, while the Al chet differentiates 54 various and possible improprieties. The concept of symbolic breast-beating comes from a midrashic interpretation of a verse in Ecclesiastes. And the living will lay it to his heart. Rabbi Meir asks and interprets, "Why do people beat their hearts," (in remorse for their sins)? Because the heart is the seat and source of sin. At the mention of each sin, we beat our breats as if to say, "You were the cause of my sins."
by John Lightfoot a commentary of Brit Hadashah from the Talmud and Herbraica
The tax collector was a striking contrast. On Amidah (Standing before Elohim), he sensed his own utter unworthiness. He was humbled to the dust. He did not think of himself as one sinner among many, but as the sinner who was unworthy of anything from Elohim.
[And the publican, standing afar off, etc.] I. That the Israelites, when they went into the Temple to put up their own private prayers, went beyond the outward court, or the Court of the Gentiles, into the Court of the Women; this, amongst other things, makes it evident, viz., that in that court were placed thirteen eleemosynary chests; into which they threw in their voluntary oblations: which was done by the widow with her two mites in that place.
II. It is a question whether any person for his private praying might come as far as the gate of Nicanor, or the Court of Israel; much less into the Court of the Priests, unless the priests only. We read of our Saviour's being in the Court of the Gentiles, viz., in Solomon's Porch, and that he was in the treasury, or the Court of the Women; but you will hardly find him at any time in the Court of Israel. And the negative upon their entrance into that court is confirmed, at least if that rule avail any thing which we meet with in Hieros. Beracoth; "R. Joshua Ben Levi saith, 'He that stands to pray, it is necessary that he first sit down, because it is said, Blessed are they that "sit" in your house.' " Now it was lawful for no person to sit down in that court but the king only.
III. That therefore this publican stood so much further off while he prayed than the Pharisee, was probably more from his humility than any necessity that lay upon him so to do. For though the heathen and publican go together in those words of our Saviour, "Let him be to you as a heathen man and a publican," yet it is a question whether the publicans, if they were Jews, were bounded to the outward court only, as the heathens were.
[He would not lift so much as his eyes to heaven.] What needed this to have been added, when this was the very rule of praying, "Let him that prayeth cover his head and look downward." "The disciple of the wise men, when he stands praying, let him look downward." But were those of the laity or of the common people to do thus? If not, our question is answered, that this man (otherwise than the vulgar was wont) in deep humility and a conscience of his own vileness, would not lift up his eyes. But if this was the usage of all in common, that whilst they were actually praying they must look downward; yet probably in the time that they were composing themselves to prayer, they might be a little lifting up their eyes towards heaven. "If they pray in the Temple, they turn their faces towards the holy of holies; if elsewhere, then towards Jerusalem." And it would be a strange thing if they were not to have their eyes towards heaven at all: indeed, when they began to pray, then they looked downward.