Tefillah (Prayer/connecting to Hashem)

Lox and Learn

Rambam (Maimonides) Laws of Prayer Chapter 1 Laws 1-6

Rambam (Law 1): It is a positive commandment to pray every day (every 24 hour period), as it is written: "You shall worship the Lord your God" (Ex. 23:25). By tradition, they learned that this worship is prayer, as it says: "and to worship God with all of your heart" (Deut. 11:13)—the sages said what is worship of the heart? This is prayer. The number of prayers is not biblical, the form of prayer is not biblical, and prayer has no biblically fixed time.

Points to ponder

-How is prayer (which means asking for our needs) service?

-Every Mitzvah is an opportunity for spiritual growth. How can one use Teffilah to grow?

The Chinuch Mitzvoh 433 writes “The basis for this Mitzvah is twofold:

1. Because Hashem is good He desired to give us a way to bring blessing into our lives.

2. Through Teffilah one focuses that Hashem is the source for everything, that He is always looking at our deeds, that He cares about us and has the power to help us.”

Rambam (Law 2): Therefore, women and slaves are obligated in prayer because it is a positive commandment lacking a fixed time.

The biblical format of this prayer is as follows: a person should first relate the praise of God, and secondly ask for their needs as a supplication, and conclude with thanks to God for the good that has been bestowed upon them, each person according to their ability.

Did you know?

- According to Ramban when one is in a time of stress or pain there is an added commandment to pray. This is to acknowledge that all comes from G-d and it is in His hand to help us.

-The main intention (Kavanna) that one must have during prayer is that one is standing in front of G-d and speaking to Him.

-Although it is better to pray in Hebrew one may pray in English. One should pray as if talking to Hashem. It is a great Mitzvah to add a prayer in one’s own words either after Shmone Esrei or any time during the day. (See appended letter of Rabbi Pinkus)

Rambam (Law 3): If one is accustomed/fluent, he increases in supplications and petitions, and if one has uncircumcised lips, he speaks according to his ability and anytime he likes. And so, the number of prayers is as each to their own abilities. (Biblically) There are some who pray once a day, and there are those who pray many times. And everyone would pray facing the Temple. This was the way of things from the time of Moses to Ezra.

Did you know?

-When Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) inaugurated the first Temple he prayed that the Temple be the center point of prayer. All who need help should turn toward the Temple to pray regardless of where they live. He further said that even when the Jews would eventually go into exile that they should be able to pray toward the Temple.

Rambam (Law 4): When Israel was dispersed in the days of Nebudchadnezzar the evil (after the destruction of the first Temple), and they had children in the foreign lands, their children spoke a mixture of Hebrew and other languages. They were therefore unable to express themselves properly in any one language in prayer. And when Ezra and his Beit Din saw this, they instituted the 18 blessings (the order of which is three first praises to Hashem, and three last thanksgivings, and the middle twelve requests on all the things that are foundations of every person’s desires/needs which follows the biblical format.) In this way the standard text may be learned by all, that all may pray in one language, fluently.

Rambam (Laws 5-6): They decreed that the number of prayers should be like the number of offerings (which they could not bring in exile): two prayers each day, plus an additional one at night. Additionally, there should be an added Musaf on those days when an extra sacrifice should be brought in the Temple.

There is a powerful letter written by the great Rabbi Shimshon Pinkus obm.

To the yeshiva boy whom I do not know,

I have read your letter; however I am not at the level at which I can advise and tell you what to do. However I will write to you what I think about what you have described in your letter.

It seems to me that you try very hard to do that which is right. You do all that which is within your capabilities but now you require outside help. The reason for this is that these things which trouble you are so lofty and tremendous, to learn Torah with inner desire, and that which you wish is beyond your abilities. Although one is required to do their part there comes a time when one requires outside assistance.

I will give you a name and address. To him you can turn and he will help you.

They call him “G-d”

He is tremendously powerful, for in truth He has created all that is, and I know that He loves you on a deep personal level and waits eagerly for you to turn to Him.

There is no difficulty in finding His address as He is literally everywhere and this second that you are reading this letter you can turn to Him.

I write this to you because many people think of this as prayer, a Mitzvah, or for those on great levels. All this is true but unimportant. What is important is that Hashem (G-d) is a real living personage with whom you can develop a personal connection and Who will never disappoint someone who does so.

The more basic and practical you make this the more it will help you. The main thing is make a personal connection and tell Him about your problems. Then you should ask Him for help time after time.

Whoever will give you different advice is wasting your time. Go straight to the one who can help you, grab Him and do not let Him go until you get that which you need.

With deep respect for a son of Torah who is looking for truth, it is only a pity that you do not know where to search, Rabbi Pinkus