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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.
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Paragon of Passion
The Gemara tells us אינו דומה…לשונה פרקו מאה ואחד, there is no comparison between one who learns something 100 times and 101. Another meaning of this statement is that there is no comparison between one who learns the material 100 times to one who learns it 100 times with the אחד—ה’. Connecting to Hashem while learning may be overlooked but is very necessary. Before we learn we should say I am learning Toras Hashem.
There are those, including R’ Akiva Eiger, who when for example learning Gemara would say אמר אביי—Abaye says the Ratzon Hashem is… So they would do with all their learning. There were Gedolim who when they didn’t comprehend what they were learning would stop and cry out to Hashem until they got the explanation.
R’ Berel Wein recalled that when he was in seventh grade in the Chicago Jewish Academy, the Rebbe would begin the shiur in the morning with the words we say at shacharis:אשרינו מה טוב חלקנו ומה נעים גורלנו ומה יפה ירשתנו אשרינו שאנחנו משכימים ומעריבים ערב ובקר ואומרים פעמים בכל יום שמע ישראל ה’ אלה-ינו ה’ אחד, we are fortunate, how good is our portion, how pleasant is our lot, and how beautiful is our heritage. We are fortunate for we come early and stay late, evening and morning and proclaim twice daily, Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokainu Hashem Echad. Then the Rebbe said, “Now we can learn.” How many of us say this before we start learning?
 Chagiga 9b.
 See Nefesh Hachaim 4:7.
 Interestingly, this tefilla was compiled during a period of intense persecution.
 During the middle of the fifth century the Persian king, Yezdegerd the second, forbade the Jews to observe Shabbos and to recite Shema. His purpose was to eradicate belief in Hashem as the Creator (which is symbolized by Shabbos) and in His Oneness, as it is proclaimed in Shema. To ensure that Shema would not be read in defiance of his decree, the king stationed guards in shul for the first quarter of the day when Shema must be read. To counteract his plan, the Sages instituted two recitations of the first pasuk of Shema—the one read in this tefilla which was to be recited at home and another as part of the Shabbos Kedusha of Mussaf. Although these contain only the first pasuk of Shema, it is sufficient to fulfill the obligation of Shema in cases of extreme emergency (Brachos 13b). Even after Yezdegerd was killed, the two Shema recitations remained as it was, and the one that had been recited at home was included in the part of the tefilla in shul (after Birchos Hashachar).