Prayer, what is it? - Vayetse

Wednesday, 4 December, 2019 - 9:15 am

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Once, the president of the USA came to visit the Prime minister of Israel. In the ministerial office, the American president remarked a special phone, and asked what it is. The Israeli answered that it’s a phone used to speak to G-d. The American then said he also has such a phone, but uses it rarely, because it is so expensive. The Israeli smiled: “I speak as much as I want. Here, it’s a local call.”

In this week’s Parasha Vayetse, Jacob, on his way from Israel to Charan, dreams about something unusual. In his dream, he sees a gigantic scale standing on the ground while its top reaches the sky. On this ladder, Jacob saw angels going up and coming down. According to our Sages, this was a changing of guards. The angels that were accompanying Jacob in Israel went back to the Heavens, while other angels came down to accompany him abroad.

I don’t know what your dreams are about, but the ladder of Jacob’s dream concerns us all. Every day, we have the opportunity to climb this spiritual ladder through prayer. Prayer is like a ladder, like a bridge uniting the material world with G-d. Think about it a little. You and I, simple mortals, can communicate and speak with G-d Himself! G-d, Who wants to hear from us, because we are His children, even if we don’t always succeed in doing the right thing. G-d, Who is all-powerful and can give us whatever we need and wish for. G-d, upon Whom everything depends.

There is a saying that a parent always wants to give, but he cannot always do it. A king can give, but he doesn’t always want to do it. In various prayers, we refer to G-d as “our Father and King”, because He always wants to give us the best and always can do it. But sometimes, He knows that what is best for us is not what we ask for…

It’s important to remember that G-d is not an ATM machine and that prayer is not a shopping list. Its is a daily opportunity to speak with G-d. Naturally, when a child speaks with his or her father, s/he asks him for what s/h needs. But this is not the only thing they speak about.

We can talk for hours about how extraordinary prayer is, this direct communication with G-d. But the most important is to take advantage and utilize this opportunity. There are the written prayers, that help us to express ourselves correctly and follow the proper order: praise, requests, thanks. But there are also the spontaneous prayers that come directly from the heart. G-d loves both.

Let’s decide this week to pray every day. We can start our day with Modeh Ani, and/or start it with the Shema Israel, and/or dedicate a specific moment to speak with G-d directly from our heart.

May our biggest prayer, the coming of Mashiach, be fulfilled now!

Shabbat Shalom,


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