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.
Prayer - The ORIGINAL Soul Food
Published: Monday, November 4, 2019 10:46:16 PM
Number of views: 132

The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, "Tefilot Avot Tiknum" – "Prayer was established by the Avot". The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established Prayer: "Vayaskem Avraham baboker el hamakom asher amad sham et pnei Hashem" – "And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before G‑d".

The connection here is in the word "AMAD" – "Stood" and its association with the Amida Prayer. Strangely though, the Torah relates, just one chapter later (Bereshis 20:17), "Vayitpalel Avraham el Ha'Elokim" – "And Avraham prayed to G‑d". The word "VAYITPALEL" is directly related to "TEFILA" - "Prayer". When proving that Avraham established Prayer, why didn't the Talmud use this verse?

Furthermore, in the case of Avraham's Tefilah, G‑d answered his prayer and miraculously healed Avimelech, the King of the Plishtim, and his entire household. Why isn't this clear, explicit and successful Prayer our foundational model?

The Talmud's first proof text for Prayer offers us a profound lesson. Let's take a deeper look at our original proof text: "And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before G‑d". What's so special about this place? This place was of deep significance to Avraham. It was the place where he stood, argued and confronted G‑d before the destruction of Sodom and A'mora.

This is the place where Avraham stood alone, face to face with the Creator of the Universe, mustered all his courage to demand (Bereshis 18:23), "Hashofet kol haaretz lo yaaseh mishpat?" – "Shall the Judge of the entire earth not do justice?" And Avraham continues to challenge G‑d, "Chalilah Lecha l'hamit tzaddik im rasha?" "How dare You kill the righteous together with the wicked?"

By using this verse as a foundation for Jewish Prayer, the Talmud teaches us that the place of Jewish Prayer is NOT centered on miracles or good fortune. Rather, Prayer is the place where we confront G‑d for what seems to us to be unfair and unjust. Prayer is the place where we struggle and argue with G‑d Who loves righteousness and justice but allows suffering, pain, and death of innocent children. Prayer's place is where we, like Avraham, stand and see the distance between the world as it is and the world as it could be.

This is where our Prayer begins. In our daily AMIDAH in the paragraph beginning with Shema Kolenu, one should add his personal pleas and petitions. The Yaaros D’vash emphasizes that such personal prayers may be in any language or style, for our feelings and devotion are more important than the form of the prayer! This is where hope begins, and where redemption begins. We have a lot of work to do. Let's get started by having a daily conversation with G‑d and telling Him our troubles. He yearns to hear from us. It's the best therapy there is, and it's free! Prayer is the ORIGINAL Soul Food!

Through Prayer, we become G‑d's partners and messengers to demonstrate how to handle life's difficult tests. We show our family and friends how to have Emunah and Bitachon (Faith and Trust in G‑d), despite our pain and suffering.

How does Emunah (Faith) differ from Bitachon (Trust)? Emunah means to believe that whatever happens to us, good or even G‑d forbid, tragedies, ALL comes from G‑d. Bitachon (Trust) is a higher level than Emunah alone, for even in the tragic events in life, I TRUST G‑d that somehow these happenings are also part of G‑d's Plan for the Ultimate Good.

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