Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Foundation Of Prayer

An important principle in the service of the Creator is that faith is of its essence. My grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov emphasized that it is the basis of the entire Torah and Divine service. King David said, "All Your commandments are rooted in faith" (Tehillim 119:86), because the essence of the commandments is belief in
G-d. Only he who believes that G-d renews the acts of Creation every day can pray every day; for as he becomes a new creature each day, and the worlds are newly created, he must pray and give thanks to Him who created everything, including himself. Likewise he must pray for himself, for his wife and children, for his daily sustenance, and for all appropriate things. If you do not believe with complete faith that G-d renews the act of Creation each day, then you will see prayer and the mitzvos as hackneyed and commonplace, and you will scorn the recitation of the same words every day.

My grandfather spoke in this vein when he commented on the verse, "Do not cast me off in old age" (Tehillim 71:9). This means that prayers should not be considered old by the supplicant. Just as old age causes weakness in man's limbs, because of the diminishing powers, juices, and circulation of the blood that keeps man alive, so it is with matters of the spirit. That which is old [i.e. prayer by rote] gives man neither great pleasure nor vitality. This is not the case with something new [i.e. prayer in which the worshipper believes and senses immediate relevance]. This is the meaning of "Consider them - the words of the Torah - each day as new," for "they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness." (Eichah 3:23). "They are new every morning" refers to G-d renewing the act of Creation daily, and because of this, "great is Thy faithfulness. Thus faith is the foundation of prayer and mitzvos.

(Degel Machaneh Ephraim)