Pious individuals in ancient times would spend additional time for preparation before prayer and reflection afterward, totaling three hours each day for each of the three daily prayer services, totally nine hours of devotion in prayer. "Sincere prayer and spiritual endeavors elevate the Shechinah from its state of exile, playing a vital role in ushering in the Messianic redemption." * On the Tanya lesson for 5 Menachem Av.
There is great importance in selecting appropriate prayer leaders, who can foster spiritual growth and unity within the community. This lesson resonates with the value of dedicating substantial time to prayer and embracing an inclusive approach to leadership.
Weekday prayer: On weekdays, the call is clear – prayer leaders should have the time for lengthy prayers (about an hour and a half). Teachers and individuals supported by their parents embody the dedication needed for this profound practice. Amidst life's demands, these leaders offer an unhurried and contemplative prayer experience, inspiring others by their heartfelt connection with the Divine.
Prayer on special days: Sabbaths and festivals present a unique opportunity for everyone, including busy businessmen, to step up as prayer leaders. This inclusive approach celebrates diverse backgrounds and recognizes that deep spiritual connection knows no bounds. Determining leadership through lot or consensus fosters fairness and unity, valuing each member's spiritual contribution.
In this lesson, Tanya urges a spiritually enriching environment, where heartfelt and extensive prayer is embraced. By entrusting leadership to those who invest time in authentic prayer and encouraging active participation, the community flourishes with deeper spiritual growth and a profound sense of togetherness.
LENGTHY PRAYER IN CLASSIC SOURCES
There are several classic sources from Jewish literature that highlight the benefits of engaging in extended and heartfelt prayer. These sources come from the Talmud and other traditional Jewish texts:
1. Talmud - Berachot 32b: "Rabbi Eliezer said, 'If one prays the entire prayer, and only at the end of his prayer realizes that he has not properly focused his mind, the Holy One, Blessed be He, does not pay attention to his prayer.'" This passage emphasizes the importance of concentration and intention during prayer. Taking time for focused and sincere prayer is considered more effective and meaningful.
2. Talmud - Brachot 21a: "If a person was praying and the time for the meal arrived, even if he had not yet finished his prayer, he should interrupt his prayer and proceed to eat. And this is derived from Moses our teacher, who prayed to God a lengthy prayer, and he was not praying for himself. Nonetheless, he was forced to interrupt his prayer in order to attend to his personal needs." This passage illustrates that even when engaged in an important and lengthy prayer, one should not neglect other essential obligations. However, it also underscores the significance of prolonged prayer, as even Moses, the great leader and prophet, engaged in lengthy prayer.
3. Talmud - Berachot 32b: "Even though the early pious ones would spend an hour in prayer before commencing prayer, and an hour afterward to calm down from their prayer, and their prayer itself was only a short time, the Holy One, Blessed be He, still did not despise it." This passage highlights the practice of early pious individuals spending additional time for preparation before prayer and reflection afterward, totaling approximately three hours each day for the three daily prayer services, totally nine hours of devotion in prayer.
4. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 98: "One should wait a while after praying before taking leave of the synagogue. This is because the Divine Presence is found in the synagogue for as long as the prayer of a person who prays with a congregation is still within its walls. As it is stated (Psalm 74:7): 'They set fire to Your sanctuary on the ground; they profaned the dwelling place of Your Name on the earth.' [The word for 'on the ground' can also be read as 'until the ground.'] This indicates that the Divine Presence is present in the synagogue until people depart from it and leave it empty." This passage emphasizes the spiritual significance of spending time in the synagogue after prayer. Taking time to reflect and connect with the Divine presence is seen as beneficial and spiritually enriching.
These references provide insight into the value placed on sincere, focused, and extended prayer in Jewish tradition, as well as the practices of early pious individuals who dedicated substantial time to prayer and spiritual pursuits.
THE POWER OF PRAYER IN BRINGING MOSHIACH
In Jewish belief and tradition, the concept of prayer holds a profound connection to the arrival of Moshiach (the Messiah). Authentic sources from Jewish literature shed light on the transformative power of heartfelt supplication in hastening the redemption and bringing about the Messianic era.
1. Talmud - Sanhedrin 98a: The Talmud teaches that the arrival of Moshiach is contingent on the Jewish people's repentance. Genuine repentance involves self-reflection, prayer, and a commitment to leading a righteous life. By actively engaging in these practices, individuals contribute to the collective repentance of the Jewish people, thereby hastening the arrival of Moshiach.
2. Rambam - Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance 7:5: Maimonides, a revered Jewish scholar, emphasizes the importance of teshuvah (repentance) and prayer in bringing about the coming of Moshiach. He states that when the Jewish people return to God wholeheartedly and pray for redemption, their prayers will be answered, and the redemption will be realized.
3. Talmud - Brachot 34b: The Talmud proclaims that the world was created in merit of the prayers of the righteous. This concept underscores the belief that the prayers of righteous individuals have a profound impact on the world's redemption and the arrival of Moshiach. Engaging in sincere and fervent prayer, therefore, contributes to the rectification and perfection of the world, thus bringing it closer to the Messianic era.
4. Tanya - Chapter 37: The Tanya, a foundational work of Chassidic philosophy, delves into the concept of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) in exile and its relationship to the redemption. According to the Tanya, sincere prayer and spiritual endeavors elevate the Shechinah from its state of exile, playing a vital role in ushering in the Messianic redemption.
In conclusion, these authentic Jewish sources reveal the critical role of prayer in bringing about the arrival of Moshiach. The act of prayer not only connects individuals with the Divine but also contributes to the collective repentance and spiritual elevation of the Jewish people, hastening the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies and the long-awaited redemption