Monday, November 3, 2014

Purpose of Prayer

We have to beg the Ribono Shel Olam, as we say every day in Maariv, "Vesakeinu be'eitza tovah milfnecha. Set us right with good counsel from before you." We have to beg the Ribono Shel Olam to give us the wisdom to deal with these problems and to direct us to effective sources of counsel and guidance. Parents have to cry out to the Ribono Shel Olam, "This is my future, and this is what we're here for. Nothing else matters. Help us!"

Rav Yechezkel Abramsky zatzal, the great gaon and tzaddik, once walked into the apartment of the Brisker Rav in Yerushalayim and saw him and his children sitting around the table. The Rav was saying a dvar Torah, and his children were listening intently, their faces shining.

Later, Rav Abramsky asked the Brisker Rav, "What is the secret of your chinuch? How were you zocheh that every single child walks faithfully in your footsteps?"

"My secret in chinuch?" said the Rav. "Tehillim mit treren." Tehillim with tears.

That is the way to bring up children. Tehillim with tears. This potent combination gives us an awareness of how to protect our children our children from harmful influences. From this, we gain the sensitivity to understand how to speak to them, when to rebuke and when not to rebuke. From this, we gain the siyata dishmaya to inspire them to want to walk in the footsteps of their parents. And from this, the Ribono Shel Olam directly inspires them with yiras shamayim.With Hearts Full of Love, HoRav Matisyahu Salomon 

I used to think that davening was about demanding a certain result from Hashem, but when I comprehended my, well, weenie-ness in the Great Cosmic Scheme of Things, I felt rather cowed. Who am I to insist, to dictate, to tantrum to the Ultimate Watchmaker? 

Additionally, my laundry list recital I rarely felt good, merely unhappy with what I still didn't have, and what the others I asked for still didn't have. How long can a person bang on the door before deciding to resort to jimmying open the window? 

A change of perspective was needed, and the above segment helped. 

It's not about hoping for different circumstances, it's about asking that while I'm in this situation, I make the best possible choices to bring about the best possible outcome. We have bechira, after all, and our choices do matter. 

It's when we succumb to habit as opposed to make conscious choices that we mess things up. Once we are davening for awareness, we are aware

In the Nusach S'fard Shmoneh Esrei, there is a Yehi Ratzon inserted in Elokei Nitzor: "V'shelo echos hayom v'shelo achisecha." That I do not become angry today, and that I do not anger You.

I've been saying this since childhood, but I wasn't aware that I was until I finally took a glance at the English. Now, if I remember, I am aware when I feel anger, and try every which way to prevent it from its crippling hold. Did Hashem prevent my anger? Well, in awareness I asked Him that I shouldn't get angry, and in turn, because I was aware because of the request, I made a point to keep fury at bay. 

But He is the one who lets the reminder pop into my head.

Davening isn't about shoving every single thing in Hashem's hands and saying, "You take care of this, and this, and this . . . I'll be in the mall." 

There is a lot of stuff I can't control; that I leave with Him. But the stuff I can? My reactions, my words, my outlook? That's me. I just need to be aware and choose.   


Daniel Saunders said...

I have a lot I could say about davening. But it mostly boils down to this: a successful prayer is one that brings us closer to G-d. An unsuccessful prayer is one that leaves us where we were.

I'm curious about the Yehi Ratzon. I'd never heard of it before. I thought the root k-n-a was usually translated as 'jealousy' or possibly 'zeal' rather than 'anger' (though that too is a problematic translation). Though the awareness point remains.

Princess Lea said...

*Blush* I put the wrong quote in. It is jealousy. Fixing it now!