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Thought for the Day: HaShem Gives Your T'filos As Much Attention As You Do

One of the perks of writing down a thought or two each day is that is helps me to crystalize that thought and give it a permanence in my my psyche.  It also helps me to keep focus when listening to a shiur, because when I hear an interesting idea I immediately think about how to condense it into a paragraph or two.  I discovered a downside to that process this morning, when I started listening to a set of shiurim from R' Efraim Twerski of Khal Chasidim on t'fila.  The downside is that during the time it takes to contemplate how to best express an interesting chidush, three more interesting chidushim have been expressed.  Oh well... I'll try my best.

T'fila, notes R' Twerski, is the defining attribute being human.  Animals communicate; animals even talk.  Only humans pray.  One would think, therefore, that prayer would be among those things in which we take most pride.  Yet, Chazal tell us and experience confirms, prayer is largely taken for granted and relegated to one of those things "we have do do... sigh..."  What went wrong?  Perhaps (agian notes R' Twerki) it is the fact that we don't feel our prayers are answered.  He gives three reasons why prayer may go unanswered.

First, maybe it would be bad for you to get what you are requesting.  Over Yom Tov, my granddaughter asked a few times from more sweets.  Sometimes her parents declined her request; even when she cried bitter tears or batted her beautiful eyes and said "pleease", they were intransigent.  Another way to put this is not that HaShem didn't answer, but that HaShem answered "no".  (Sounds much better in yiddish.  The chasid complained to the rebbi, "HaShem antvort nisht!"  The rebbi replied, "Nein.  HaShem antvort -- nisht!"

A second reason could be that HaShem treats us mida k'neged mida; HaShem pays as much attention to our prayers and gives them the same consideration as we do.  Do you weigh every word, contemplate its meaning, and pray with complete attention; mind, heart, and tongue working as a  unit?  Or is it, "let's chahp (grab) a mincha", "aargh... this shalich tzibur is soo slow... why is chazaras ha'shatz taking more then 67 seconds!?  I have important places to be and important things to do!"  HaShem's response is, well, appropriately aligned.

Finally, Chazal have told us that the gates of prayer are locked; only the gate of tears is never locked.  If your prayer is not said fervently enough to evoke tears, then maybe it's just not getting in.  On that, though, the Satmar Rav asks that if the gates are locked, what's the point of davening if you know you aren't going to come to tears?  Maybe just figure, "oh well, maybe next time".  The Satmar Rav answers from a Chazal that refers to t'fila as one of those things that matters that stands at the heights of Creation, yet people disparage them.  The t'filos are standing at the heights of Creation, he says, waiting with anticipation for your tears to open the gates.

Perhaps we can use that to put all three reasons together (my own thought, don't blame R' Twerski for this one):  When a t'fila is for something that isn't appropriate or comes with inadequate kavana, HaShem doesn't ignore it, He sets it by your gate of t'fila.  When you are moved to daven with such fervor that you come to tears, the gates are opened and those t'filos flow like the opening of flood gates.  But more than that, since you couldn't have been moved to daven like that without all the preparation and practice from those previous t'filos, every single t'fila is now raised to the level of a prayer said with full intention, full concentration, and the full emotion that comes with crying.

A flood like that can change worlds.

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