Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TEFILA (Jewish prayer): Introduction.

Praying is an innate tendency of any human being who believes in God.  Since God is all-powerful, merciful and compassionate,  man would naturally make contact with Him.  Man has needs and often faces difficulties that cannot be solved by his own efforts. Sickness, accidents or other tragedies bring us to call God. When man is betrayed, or alone or feel hopeless he seeks God for comfort and hope.

Our forefathers have prayed to HaShem numberless times asking for His help or intervention: Abraham prayed to God to spare the lives of the inhabitants of Sodoma and Gomorra. Yitzchaq and his wife Ribqa prayed to HaShem to have a child. Ya'aqob prayed to haShem to save him from the murderous hands of Esav.    Moshe prayed to haShem asking Him to forgive the great sin of the people of Israel (the golden calf). Aharon, Yehoshua', Shemuel, King David and king Salomon, just to mention a few, prayed constantly to God. 

One of the most famous Biblical prayers, very esteemed by our Rabbis, was the prayer of a woman: Chana, the mother of the prophet Shemuel. Chana was barren and she begged God wholeheartedly to have a son (I Samuel, 1:12) and finally God blessed her with a son.  An extraordinary thing happened then: Chana prayed to God again. This time, with no additional requests, she prayed to praise Him. To acknowledge His power. To assert that He is the One who can turn a poor man rich or a rich man poor. He is the one that gives life or takes life away. Chana prayed to God out of happiness and relief, and to say thank you for her son. 

Prayer is one of the most essential principles of Judaism. Like our forefathers we pray with numberless requests, but we also pray to praise and acknowledge God, and to thank Him for all His blessings to us, as individuals and as part of His chosen Nation.  

(Adapted from Penine Halakha, Tefila, Alef and Bet)

Ninety percent of Americans have a spiritual interlude with God every day, according to a study released by Brandeis University.  See HERE