BS’D A Journey through Jewish PrayerUnit 1: The Virtue of Prayer Based on the MorashaSyllabus.com Curriculum
IntroductionIn this unit we shall explore the exalted status of prayerin the Jewish worldview. The point here is simply toestablish clearly just how significant prayer is. As weprogress through the slides we will begin to understandwhy.
Part A. The Craft of Our FathersInformal, individual prayerwas established by the Avot(the Patriarchs) prior to theTemple period.The Avot are ourforefathers – Avraham,Yitzchak and Yaakov. Maarat Hamachpela In Chevron, Israel Burial place of Avraham & Sarah, Yitzchak & Rivkah, Yaakov & Leah
Source #1 Talmud Bavli Berachot 26bThe Avot introduced three prayers:(This source continues on the next slide.)
Later in Jewish history, thepractice of the Avot (forefathers)stood the Jewish people in goodstead.Being chased by the Mitzrim(Egyptians) after the massexodus from Mitzrayim (Egypt),trapped between the advancingarmy on one side and the vastsea on the other, the Jewishpeople prayed to Hashem.
Source #2 Shemot, Perek 14, Passuk 10Before the sea split, the Jewish people prayed:Rashi comments on the word -
Source #3 “Rabbi Kadoozy”Visithttp://www.chabad.org/240369.Watch the video there,in which RabbiKadoozy answers aquestion about prayerand Jono asks G-d towrite his term paper.
Part B. The Mitzvah to PrayAside from beingthe “craft of ourforefathers,” prayeris also a mitzvah.For the Jewishpeople, it is amitzvah to prayevery day.
Source #1 Devarim, Perek 11, Passuk 13We are commanded to serve Hashem with our heart:
Source #2Rambam, Hilchot Tefillah (the Laws of Prayer) 1:1 The connection of prayer to Avodah is derived in the Talmud as the service (Avodah) of the heart:
The essence of the mitzvah to pray, called “service of theheart,” is daily and has three elements to it:The actual source for this is on the following slide.
Source #3Rambam, Hilchot Tefillah (the Laws of Prayer) 1:2 Prayer is comprised of praise, request, and thanks to G- d:
There is an additional mitzvah: to pray at a time ofneed. Every person (Jew and non-Jew alike) isrequired to believe in Hashem. Praying at a time ofneed demonstrates that we believe in Hashem.The actual source for this is on the following slide.
Source #4: Rabbi Moshe FeinsteinIgrot Moshe, Orach Chaim Vol. II, Ch. 24 Prayer demonstrates a basic belief in Hashem: “The essence of belief in Hashem is that only He can ultimately guarantee our livelihood or cure our diseases. And when a person does not trust in Hashem and does not pray to Him, it is as if he is denying belief in Hashem for the sake of belief in something else.”
Since Jews and non-Jews alike arerequired to pray to Hashem in atime of need, the Bait Hamikdash(the Holy Temple in Jerusalem),was called by the prophetYeshayahu “a house of prayer forall the nations” (see source onthe next slide).
Source #5 Yeshayahu Perek 56, Passuk 7The Bait Hamikdash (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem)was, and will be again, a house of prayer for everyone:
Source #1Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 1:2 “Divine Service” is one of the three principal goals of Creation: “Shimon the Righteous was one of the last survivors of the Great Assembly. He used to say, The world rests on three things: On Torah, on Avodah (Divine service; serving Hashem) and on acts of kindness.’”
The importance of prayer is derived from its directrelationship to Avodah (Divine service in the BaitHamikdash, the Holy Temple in Jersualem). After thedestruction of the Bait Hamikdash, prayer replacedAvodah as a primary means of building a relationshipwith God on both a personal and national level.This idea is hinted to in the next source.
Source #2 Hoshea, Perek 14, Passuk 3No longer with a Bait Hamikdash (Holy Temple), ourprayers replace the sacrifices:“So we will render for calves [i.e., sacrifices] theoffering of our lips [i.e., prayer].”In other words: We will offer the words of our lipsinstead of calves.
Source #3: Rabbi Aryeh KaplanThe Handbook of Jewish Thought, Vol. II “Just as a sacrifice unites the spiritual and material by making a lowly animal the object of serving God, so does prayer unite the spiritual and material by making the request of our material needs a service of God. It is for this reason that, when it is impossible to bring sacrifices, prayer can be offered in their stead, as the prophet exclaimed, “We will offer the words of our lips instead of calves” (Hoshea 14:3)”