Beit Midrash

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  • Ein Ayah
To dedicate this lesson

Internal Yet Active Prayer


Various Rabbis

"Only her [Chana’s] lips were moving" (Shmuel I, 1:13) - from here we see that one who prays should form the words on his lips. "... and her voice was not to be heard" (ibid.) - from here we see that one who prays should not have his voice heard while praying.

Ein Ayah: The goal of prayer is to strengthen one’s internal, spiritual side and to come as close as possible to a true recognition of Hashem. This can be accomplished only if one uses all of his powers, such as emotion and intellect, and each one in its proper place.
On one hand, prayer should involve the body, and therefore one’s lips should move. On the other hand, the main gains one is to work on are internal. Therefore, the prayer is to be said so that only he can hear. In this way, one shows himself that he should concentrate on true service of Hashem and communicate with He who knows man’s secrets, without showing off before others.
Yet, one would not want to come to the misconception that the only important things are internal elements, which could bring him to the dangerous mistaken idea that external actions are unimportant. In fact, one cannot reach shleimut without healthy actions. Therefore, it is specifically required that one performs the action of moving his lips.

Limits to Emotion in Prayer
(condensed from Berachot 5:21)

"Eili thought that she [Chana] was drunk" (Shmuel I, 1:13) - from here we see that it is forbidden to pray when one is drunk.

Ein Ayah: It is true that prayer is based on a foundation of emotion and that the heart can be more energized during drunkenness. This is included in that which Chazal said: "Whoever is appeased when he is under the influence of wine has a similarity to his Maker" (Eiruvin 65a). However, one can reach the ideal only when the emotional is linked to the intellectual. A drunk is ruled by his emotion, whereas his cognitive capabilities are greatly inhibited.
Also, the obligation of prayer is not just to have one in the proper frame of mind during the prayer. Rather, the prayer should impact on the actions one undertakes thereafter. One can reach emotions that include goodness and righteousness while drunk, but this does not continue into leading him on the straight path afterward. This is because spiritual powers need a calm and collected thought process in order to distinguish between holy and mundane and between pure and impure. To someone who is drunk, the whole world seems flat (Yoma 75a). In other words, everything seems permitted and good to him and he is not able to see that improper things can be destructive. That is why one may not pray while drunk.
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