Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Did G-d pray when He gave us the Torah?
Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 03:25:32 PM
Number of views: 2768

At the giving of the Torah we find that G-d utters a prayer that we should always fear Him and observe His Mitzvot, for our own good (D'varim 5:26).

The Talmud in B'rachot 7a, brings another verse to prove that G-d prays: "I will bring them to My holy mountain, and make them rejoice in the house of My prayer, [for My house is a house of prayer for all nations]" (Yeshayahu 56:7). The pasuk does not say "their prayer", but "My prayer". We thus see that G-d prays.

And what is His prayer?

Rav Zutra bar Tovia said in the name of Rav: It is, "May it be My will that My mercy should overcome My anger and that My mercy dominate My attributes. May I act toward My children with the attribute of mercy, and go beyond the requirements of the law."

At first thought, this appears beyond all comprehension. How can we say that G-d prays? And if He does, to whom does He pray? And what is the precise meaning of His prayer? However, if we look carefully at the basic concept of prayer, this becomes somewhat easier to understand. When we pray, the object of our prayer is to bring G-d's spiritual Light to bear on the spiritual forces, so that they in turn should enhance the world in which we live. Prayer is therefore the enhancement and elevation of the spiritual forces. Of course, the One who enhances these forces is none other than G-d Himself, infusing them with His light and creative force. When G-d acts upon these forces in this manner, He is said to be "praying".

This also explains the content of G-d's prayer. The concept of G-d's anger and His attribute of justice is essentially when He withdraws His light from the spiritual forces, allowing them to function on their own. These forces then function almost automatically, dispensing justice according to a strict rule, in an almost mechanical fashion. This is the idea of G-d's "hiding His face".

The concept of G-d's mercy, on the other hand, is when G-d makes His light shine on these forces, taking complete control of them, as it were. Thus, when G-d prays that His mercy should dominate His attributes, it means that He is infusing these attributes with His light and creative force. This is the concept of G-d's praying.

It is important to note that G-d's prayer is associated with the Temple in Jerusalem. "For My house is the house of My prayer."

The reason for this is obvious. G-d's prayer refers to His infusing all attributes and spiritual forces with His light, which takes place through the Temple Mount, the focus of all prayer.

It is also very significant to note the ending of this verse, "For My house is a house of prayer to all nations." Here again, at first thought, it is difficult to see what connection this has to G-d's prayer. Why is the verse that teaches the concept of G-d's prayer associated with that of the Temple being a place of prayer for all peoples? We must realize that the main reason there is distinction between Jew and Gentile is because of the withholding of G-d's light. As a result of the sins of Adam, of the generation of the Flood, and of the builders of the Tower of Babel, G-d gradually withdrew His light from the world, restricting it to one people, the Jews, who would inhabit Jerusalem and serve G-d there. Therefore, there are directing angels over the gentile nations, but they are on a lower level than the spiritual forces associated with Israel.

The concept of G-d's prayer, however, is that His light should shine through all spiritual forces with its full intensity, and thus, to all Mankind as well. Therefore, when G-d's house is the "house of His prayer", it is then also "a house of prayer for all nations". This brings us to the location of the Temple Mount, the focus of all spiritual forces. It was set on the crossroads of civilization, so that all peoples should interact with these forces and throughout history be influenced by them. In this manner, all Mankind is gradually elevated by these spiritual forces, paving the way for the ultimate rectification of the world. This will be realized in the Messianic Age, when Jerusalem becomes a center for G-d's teaching for all Mankind, as the Prophet Yeshayahu says: "Out of Zion shall come forth the Torah and G-d's word from Jerusalem."

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