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How to Pray

With Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham

 

Please Note: On this page I will show the four letter blessed *“Memorial Name” of the Almighty in Ivrit -  - Y-H-V-H, which we usually pronounce as “Adonai” or “HaShem”. At all times treat the most blessed Name with sanctity and when we even see the Name, we should say “blessed be His Sanctified Name.”

 

*This is My Name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.” Shemot - Exodus 3:15.

 

Please do NOT visit this site on Shabbat or on a Yom Tov (Feasts)!

 

“O  Y-H-V-H, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering Your Name.” Nechemyah - Nehemiah 1: 11.

As I stated on the main page, the aim of this site is to encourage fellow Jews, especially our younger ones, and possibly those that may have fallen away from their attendance to the Synagogue and prayers, etc, to grow back into our wonderful faith. Therefore this page is all about prayer, but if your Hebrew is worse than rusty, please do NOT worry!

You may ask: “Do I have to say all the prayers in the Siddur and do I have to say them all in Hebrew?”

99.9% of Rabbis will answer as follows: That is an important question … “How should you pray”? “You should take your Siddur and say all the required prayers, three times a day, on weekdays, Shabbat, the Yom Tovim (feasts), and yes, you must say them in Ivrit (in Hebrew)”.

Although that is all very good, however, there are a good many other important elements to prayer, which we really should understand.

1…   Prayer should a personal time for us to praise and thank  our Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your being.” Davarim - Deuteronomy 6:5.

2…   Our prayer is personal, although it is also a collective prayer that we pray with, and for all Israel.

3…   Our prayer should be acceptable unto Elohim; and it should be an offering unto the Almighty. Our prayer should be “like a sweet aroma” unto  Elohim, blessed be He.

4…   We must, and should understand every single word we say in prayer.

You might ask, “Is this not what we Jews (and I do mean men and women) do in the Synagogue, or at home?” Let us look at this question.

Whilst in the Synagogue have we not seen Rabbis and those who are proficient in Ivrit, Davening (praying) at a great speed?

One may ask, “Is it possible for these prayers to be said with all our heart, all our soul, and with all our being”? My own question is, “Is it possible for us to pray with a full comprehension at the speed Rabbis and others tend to say them”? It is my firm belief that each word of our prayer should be said unto the Almighty, blessed be He, in love, with complete comprehension. Only then our prayers unto Elohim, blessed be He, will be “like a sweet aroma.” I have often asked, “Why are prayers said at the speed of lightening”? Rabbis have answered, “Because there are so many prayers to be said in the Siddur, as it is part of the order of the service.” Well excuse me, who created the service, Rabbis of yesteryear, and they continued to add and add more and more. That is why prayers in the Synagogue are so fast the they are more like “habitual prayers”, and are said, you might say, without a heart or any meaning whatsoever! Thus, it is called liturgy, liturgy that must be said and completed by the end of the service. This ideology seems to be set in concrete, and it just has to be done no matter what.

Although we must never forget that the Shul (Synagogue) is our Spiritual home!

Before continuing, it has to be said, that amongst many Jews, there is a great love for the Almighty, and their intention is certainly to Daven with good intention, wishing to please the Almighty!

We the House of Israel should pray and praise  Elohim, blessed be His sanctified Name, by saying our prayers with conviction and from the heart. These are meaningful prayers that bring a joy to our heart, because we will know that we have pleased our beloved Elohim! As I have said, the words we utter MUST be with full understanding. No man can do this by Davening at speed we tend to witness in the Synagogue. I am well aware that I will be criticized by the Rabbis, but then for them ‘tradition’ is more important than faith and following the Words of  our Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name.

Two young men praying at the HaKotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem

For those not proficient in Hebrew, it is better to reduce some of the prayers that are found in the Siddur, whilst praying at home or in the Synagogue. Why? You will be able to say your prayers with heartfelt meaning and understanding, and we know that men, Rabbis composed almost all of the prayers found in the Siddur. Thus, well meaning Rabbi after Rabbi continued to add prayers over the centuries. Undoubtedly, many of these prayers are a delight and are indeed very beautiful. But we have seen that the Siddur has grown so much, that rabbinic prayers have overburdened the daily prayer cycle. I believe, because of the massive number of prayers, it will reduce the actual time we are able to spend reading and studying the blessed Torah, which must always come first!

A wonderful sight, as a young lady spends her time in prayer

I wrote on the inside the cover of my Siddur back in the 1960’s the following, “The More Torah, the More Life, for Elohim, blessed be He, is our Life!” Indeed, we must always Daven first and say the appropriate blessings before commencing our meals, reading/studying the Torah, etc, in this way our minds will be prepared to understand what , blessed be He, is saying to us through His Word!

What of “prayer” … “reading the Torah” and “going to work.” How can we analyse these three important aspects of our daily life?

A fellow Rabbi once made the following three statements to me …

1…   Prayer represents blessings, thus likened to being in the Land of Israel. True!

2…   Reading the Torah is likened to being in Mitzraim (Egypt). A horrid Lie!

3…   Going to work is likened as to being in the wilderness. Needs explaining.

Let me state that his second concept is simply not acceptable, and nothing short from being wicked. Let me go through the three points above as follows.

1…   Davening - (reciting the prescribed liturgical prayers), and praising  our Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, is indeed likened to a “blessing” and being in the land given unto our father Avraham and his “seed forever.”

2…   However, our time immersed in the Torah, is likened to being in the very presence of the Almighty, blessed be He, as we cannot separate the Almighty from the Torah, or the Torah from Him for the Torah is the way the Almighty communicates with us, teaching us how to live! Therefore, it should and must not be likened as to being in Mitzraim (Egypt), for Mitzraim became the place of great hardship for our people. It was an evil and a pagan land and sadly many of our people fell and followed pagan gods and they had to be saved. Thus the Almighty, blessed be He, used His beloved Moshe to rescue us from that evil land which it had become. The Torah represents deliverance, both from bondage and from sin, which gives us good reason to worship  our Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name!

3…   Our labour could be possibly likened to a time in the wilderness, but whilst there, we must uphold all Torah principles, as , blessed be He, has instructed us. We do this in order to give honour to our Elohim and to represent the Jewish people honourably throughout the Gentile world, thus making our place of work a haven

My thoughts, as I have stated earlier, does not diminish the love and honour most Jews pray, for obviously their intention is to do the will of the Almighty. My only concern is the number of prayers we find in the Siddur today, which the many Rabbis (in good faith) have added, and added and added to the point, they are read at such a speed in our Synagogues’, that they have become meaningless. If fact Davening in Shul is today nothing more that a super fast babbling, and is completely meaningless, as there is no heart in it! Having done so, these Rabbis have made it almost impossible for many of the average Jews, especially those with limited Hebrew, to pray “with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their being” not fully knowing or understanding what is being said unto their Elohim. It is fine for those who spend their days in the Synagogue and at Yeshiva; most of these men spend most of their lives studying books written entirely by men being the Talmud, and read very little Torah, or the rest of the precious Tanakh, containing all our history as given to us by Elohim, through His chosen Nevi’im - Prophets. Yet these men also do not go to work as they spend all their time studying Talmud.

Thus, considering the above, please slow down when in prayer, and select the prayers that you are able to say, and if at the Synagogue, you do not have to keep up with the service for the Almighty will love every prayer you say with all your heart and soul! I believe that one single prayer said in complete love, is a prayer that is more acceptable, and worth far more than the entire service at the Synagogue, which is more like a race of a huge portion of a book said in a hurry.

ENGLISH or HEBREW?

Friends, please feel free to say them in English, if your Hebrew is limited, for believe me  our Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, understands all languages! However if possible, try to use some Hebrew, especially when saying the “Shema Yisroel.” You will find that I have it online in Ivrit - Hebrew, Transliterated and in English. Also, from your Jewish bookstore there are English, Hebrew Prayer Books available, thus, you can pray as you are able, for it is vital that you fully know and understand every single word you offer unto  Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name!

Mind you, if you can why not learn Ivrit, for it will enhance your Jewish life so much! CLICK HERE for a simple Hebrew Alphabet Chart, that you can copy and download.

I trust that I have assisted you in becoming a better Jew, and helping you with your prayer life?

May Elohim bless and keep you in the palm of His ever loving hands!

“Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice”. Tehillim - Psalms 141:2.

And remember our motto seen on the logo at the top of this page: “The More Torah, the More Life”, for  Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, is the one who gave us our Life!”

Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham.

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