Beit Midrash

  • Prayer
To dedicate this lesson
Chapter one- part one

Fundamentals of the Laws of Prayer

what is the prayer? what we can learn from our grate fathers prayer? and how the prayer work?


Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

1. Prayer
Prayer is one of the principal expressions of belief in Hashem. People are not perfect; they are flawed and long to improve themselves. They therefore turn to the Creator of the World in prayer.
Human imperfection is apparent on two levels. Most people only feel a need to pray to Hashem when their daily routines are disrupted. For example, when someone is ill or injured and his pain intensifies, when he understands that all the doctors in the world cannot guarantee his health and well-being, and only HaKadosh Baruch Hu, in Whose hands is the soul of every living thing, can cure him and grant him a long happy life – then he prays to Hashem from the depths of his heart to heal him. So it is, whenever a calamity befalls a person, his livelihood suffers, enemies rise against him, or his close friends turn their backs on him. He then understands how the good things in his life hang in a balance and he turns to Hashem to help and save him. However, when daily routines function in their usual proper manner, most people do not detect anything missing and generally do not feel a need to pray to Hashem.
Those who delve more deeply understand that even their everyday lives are not perfect. Even when they are healthy and earning a steady income, their family life is good, their friends are loyal and the situation in their country is stable, even then, perceptive people sense their existential inadequacy. They know that their lives are limited and even if all goes well, there will come a day when they die of old age. Now, too, when they are young and strong, they are unable to comprehend everything in their lives, and not everything turns out the way they intended. They cannot achieve all of their aspirations or fully attain even one goal. Out of this sense of inadequacy, they turn to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the God of the heavens and the earth, the only One Who can redeem them from their imperfection. By connecting with God in prayer, people begin the process of fulfillment and redemption.

2. Prayer and Prophets
We learn in the Tanach that whenever our ancestors and the prophets needed help, they turned to Hashem in prayer.
Avraham Avinu stood in prayer and begged that Sodom not be destroyed. Hashem answered him that if there were ten righteous people in Sodom the city would be saved. But ten righteous people were not to be found there, and Sodom was demolished (Genesis 18). Childless for many years, Yitzchak Avinu and Rivkah Imeinu, pleaded to Hashem in prayer and were answered with the birth of Yaakov and Eisav (Genesis 25). Yaakov Avinu prayed for Hashem to save him from his brother, Eisav, who set out against him with four hundred warriors, and he was answered and saved (Genesis 32). Following the sin of the Golden Calf, Hashem’s wrath rose up against the nation of Israel, and Moshe Rabbeinu prayed intensely until Hashem canceled the decree of disaster that He had threatened to bring on His people (Exodus 32). When Miriam, Moshe’s sister, fell ill with leprosy, Moshe stood and prayed, "Kel na refa na lah" ("O God, please heal her!") and she was healed (Numbers 12). To turn back a Heaven-sent plague, Aharon used the incense to pray, and the plague ceased (Numbers 17). After the army of Israel was defeated by Ai, Hashem heard Yehoshua’s prayers and guided him to correct the sin of Achan, after which they won their next battles (Joshua 7). When the Philistines waged war against Israel, Shmuel cried out to Hashem for help on behalf of the nation. In answer, Hashem led him and Israel to defeat and conquer the Philistines (I Samuel 7). David, the king of Israel, would often pray to Hashem; his prayers eventually became the Book of Psalms. After Shlomoh finished building the Temple, he prayed that the Shechinah dwell therein, and that all people who pray there would be answered, and Hashem accepted his prayer (I Kings 8-9). When Eliyahu the Prophet fought against the false prophets of Ba’al on Mount Carmel, he prayed that fire would descend from the sky and so it transpired (I Kings 18). Likewise, Elisha the Prophet prayed to Hashem that He revive the son of the Shunamite woman, and the boy came back to life (II Kings 4). When Chizkiyah faced death from his disease, he too prayed to Hashem and was cured (II Kings 20).
One of the prayers that left a lasting impression on all generations is the prayer of Chanah. Barren for years, she would often pray at the Tabernacle in Shiloh and was the first to refer to Hashem in her prayer by the holy name "Tzevakot." Eventually, she merited a son, none other than Shmuel the Prophet (I Samuel 2). Shmuel the Prophet is said to have been equal to Moshe and Aharon. Through Moshe and Aharon, the word of Hashem was revealed in the transcendental miraculous life of the Jews in the desert and through Shmuel, the word of Hashem was revealed in the tangible reality of the nation of Israel living in Eretz Yisrael. Shmuel unified the nation, founded the kingdom of David, reared a generation of prophets in Israel, and through his inspiration the Temple was built. Shmuel's great and lofty soul was difficult to bring it down to earth and Chanah needed to pray intensely until she was worthy of giving birth to him. Her prayer is so important that Chazal learn numerous laws from it (Berachot 31a).

3. The Effect of Prayer
HaKadosh Baruch Hu established a law in Creation, that when we awaken in the world below to approach the Almighty and request a blessing from Him, He, in turn, is aroused from above to bring upon us an abundance of good, according to our needs and the requirements of the world. This is mentioned in the Zohar HaKadosh in many places.
In other words, even when people are worthy that Hashem shower them with goodness, sometimes the giving is delayed until they feel the weight of their hardships and pray to Hashem from the depths of their hearts.

There are two types of prayer.
The first is for the continual existence of the world; without prayer, the world would cease to exist. This kind of prayer parallels the Tamid sacrifice, the merit of which sustains the heavens and the earth (see Ta’anit 27b).
The second type of prayer concerns specific circumstances, such as when disaster strikes and people pray for salvation, or when people pray for something they desire.
Every prayer has an influential effect, as Rabbi Chanina says, "Whoever lengthens his prayer, his prayers do not return unanswered" (Berachot 32b). Sometimes the effect is immediate, and other times in the distant future; sometimes the prayer is answered completely, other times partially. As Chazal say (Devarim Rabbah 8:1), "Great is prayer before HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Rabbi Elazar says, If you want to know the power of prayer – if it does not accomplish everything, it achieves half." HaKadosh Baruch Hu is the One Who knows how to help and support a person. Sometimes, for various reasons, a person’s misfortune is for his own good, and therefore Hashem does not accept his prayer. Nevertheless, his prayer benefits him, and its blessing will be revealed in one way or another.
Even the most righteous people, whose prayers were generally accepted, sometimes went unanswered. For instance, even though Hashem accepted Moshe Rabbeinu’s prayers to forgive the Nation and annul His decree of destruction when Israel sinned by creating the Golden Calf and sending out spies who returned with a negative report about the Land of Israel, (Exodus 32 and Numbers 14) when Moshe came to beg on behalf of himself to merit entering the Land, HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to him, "Enough! Do not talk to me further about this matter" (Deuteronomy 3:26).
Therefore, a person must exert himself greatly in prayer, and not assume that since he is praying, HaKadosh Baruch Hu must fulfill his request. Rather, he should continue praying, knowing that HaKadosh Baruch Hu hears his prayers and that his prayers are most certainly doing some good, although how much, and in what way, are unknown.

From the library of Yeshivat Har Bracha
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר