נפילת אפיים

In Parshat קרח, when Moshe and Aharon witnessed the rebellious behavior of Korach and his men, the Torah says ויפלו על פניהם, they fell on their face.

Rabbeinu Bechaye says that this is a reference to the תחנון prayer which is referred to as נפילת אפיים or, “falling on the face.”

He further explains the uniqueness of this prayer as opposed to other prayers. There are three aspects specifically connected with תחנון. The first is called מורא השכינה, a certain reverence or fear of the Divine Presence, in the way we say this prayer. The second is צער והכנעה, pain and surrender. We express this pain we acknowledge that we may have sinned. And we surrender to Hashem for whatever fate awaits us. The final aspect of תחנון is ביטול הרגשותיו, where there is a nullification of one’s emotions. We are to demonstrate true humility as we turn to G-d and ask for forgiveness for not serving Him as we should.

Perhaps this interpretation of Rabbeinu Bechaye will allow us to say the תחנון prayer with more feeling and כוונה. Shabbat Shalom