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Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְעָבְד֔וֹ בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֖ם/...and to serve Him with all of your mind/heart...  Not that the word for "serve" used here is עבודה, which generally refers to the service and order or offerings brought in the Beis HaMikdash.  Given that, Chazal explain that to "serve" HaShem with your mind/heart refers to prayer.  Prayer, therefore, is the spiritual counterpoint to the physical animal/grain/wine offerings.  That's why we have a morning and afternoon daily service, which corresponds to the קרבן תמיד/daily/continuous offering.  We have an evening service that corresponds to the burning of limbs and fats that sometimes (often) remained after the offerings themselves had been made.  We have an extra prayer service on Shabbos, Yom Tov, and Rosh Chodesh that corresponds to the מוסף/extra offerings on those days.  (There is also a hint here to what both prayer and the sacrificial offering service is all about; the word for offering/sacrifice in the Holy Tongue is "קרבן", which means to come closer.  More about that later,  בעזרת השם.)

The examples are from none other than our exalted patriarchs.

Avraham Avinu established shacharis (B'reishis 19:26):  'וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֥ם אַבְרָהָ֖ם בַּבֹּ֑קֶר אֶ֨ל־הַמָּק֔וֹם אֲשֶׁר־עָ֥מַד שָׁ֖ם אֶת־פְּנֵ֥י ה/Avraham arose early in the morning to the place where he had stood before HaShem.  We see that prayer should be said standing and in a consistent place.  (We also see that Avraham Avinu davened k'vasikin; just saying.)

Yitzchak Avinu established mincha (B'reishis 24:63): וַיֵּצֵ֥א יִצְחָ֛ק לָשׂ֥וּחַ בַּשָּׂדֶ֖ה לִפְנ֣וֹת עָ֑רֶב /Yitzchak went out to the field to converse toward evening.  From here we see that prayer is meant to be a conversation.

Yaakov Avinu established ma'ariv (B'reishis 28:11): וַיִּפְגַּ֨ע בַּמָּק֜וֹם וַיָּ֤לֶן שָׁם֙ כִּי־בָ֣א הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ/He encountered the place and lodged there, as the sun had set.  From here we see that prayer is meant to be a serious and meaningful encounter.

(Mussaf?  The Sefer Birchei Yosef 423:2, which is written by the Chida says that Musaf for Rosh Chodesh was instituted by Rochel Imeinu.  Her name is hinted in the first letters of Ro'shei Cho'doshim L'Amecha.)

Now we know that prayer is to be implemented within specific and well defined time windows and is meant to be approached as a meaningful, formal conversation with the Creator.  Serious matters are discussed and real issues addressed.  (See Mishna Brura, siman 98 for the details.)

But what should be the precise content of the prayer?  I am so glad you asked.


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