The Power of Prayer

Day 20:
How do i make my prayers
effective and meaningful?

כָּל דְבָרֶיךָ יִהְיוּ בְּנַחַת, וְרֹאשְׁךָ כָּפוּף; וְעֵינֶךָ יַבִּיטוּ לְמַטָּה לָאָרֶץ, וְלִבְּךָ לְמַעֲלָה

Speak gently at all times, with your head bowed, your eyes looking down to the ground and your heart focusing on God.

The Talmud (Yevamot 105b) says: Rabbi Ḥiya and Rabbi Shimon bar Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi were sitting outside the house of study, immersed in Torah learning. One of them said: One who prays must direct his gaze downward while praying, as it is stated by God with regard to the Holy Temple: 

“And My eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually” (I Kings 9:3), meaning: The Divine Presence rests in Eretz Yisrael, and one must direct his gaze to the sacred land when praying.

And one of them said he must direct his eyes upward, because it is stated: “Let us lift our hearts with our hands toward God in Heaven.” (Lamentations 3:41). 

In the meantime, Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosi, came beside them. He said to them: What are you dealing with? They said to him: With prayer, as we are debating the proper posture for prayer. He said to them: My father, Rabbi Yosi, said as follows: One who prays must direct his eyes downward and his heart upward, in order to fulfill both of these verses.

When one prays to God, he is overcome with two conflicting emotions. On the one hand he feels awe and trepidation at the magnitude of His Presence. On the other hand, he is filled with equal love and closeness and the glory of His Creator. Effective and meaningful prayer is the result of reaching a harmonious balance between the two.

Hashem created humans with two eyes to symbolize two sorts of vision; one that looks upward and one that looks downward. Just like with only one eye man lacks perspective and depth, so too the only way to fully understand the world around him is to simultaneously recognize his own frailty with his head bowed in humility and stand with his head held high as he proudly emulates God.

(Adapted from A Letter for the Ages, pages 79.-81)

Click on image to see the letter in Hebrew and in English

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Bonus Material

Wonder Woman’s Powerful Prayer by Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt

Gal Gadot enjoys many of the world’s blessings, to be sure — but everyone knows that the most beautiful and wealthiest aren’t always happy. The Israeli actress and model, best known for starring in “Wonder Woman,” most definitely is, however, and she told a Vanity Fair journalist why in a Vanity Fair cover story.

Read More

Daily Goals

Daily Goals:
Jewish history – the most remarkable of any people on earth – is the story of God acting through human beings who acted because they had faith in Him. In Jewish history, as in our individual lives, heaven and earth, God and us, each play their part, in ways not always apparent at the time but which become clear in retrospect. Prayer is where heaven and earth meet and a new strength, greater than ourselves, is born. May our prayers this year have a special depth and intensity. And may the Almighty hear our prayers, for ourselves and our families, for the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and for the world – and may He grant us health and fulfillment, blessing and peace.

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