Prayer, The Ultimate Spiritual Experience

“Moses prayed at that time to God” 505 prayers for clemency (his punishment was not to enter the Land of Israel) to allow him to cross over the Jordan River, complete the conquest of the land, and see the “good land of Israel,” in consideration of his many good deeds. He also solicited God’s absolute and undeserved mercy, feeling that his merits were insufficient to warrant his prayer’s acceptance.

“I both prayed to God and entreated Him at that time, saying, ‘God, I know that You are merciful even when meting out justice, for when the people sinned by making the Golden Calf, You took the initiative to show me, Your servant, Your magnanimity; that Your right hand, which metes out loving-kindness, is stronger than Your left hand, which metes out strict justice, and can overcome it; and that it is our prayers that make Your mercy override Your justice. That is why I am praying to You now and requesting mercy. Who is like You, God, in heaven or on earth? Who can match Your deeds and Your might? Mortal kings have advisors who convince him not to be lenient or merciful, but You can do whatever You please.’

The words “Moses prayed at that time” are not precise. When did he pray exactly?

That is because, at whatever time a person feels the need to pray and attach himself to God, prayer is a most powerful tool to turn to, “at that time.” Nobody would know this better than Moses with his 505 prayers.

The Preacher of Koznitz once said, “I have no better enjoyment in this world than a good prayer.”

In Hebrew, the literal translation of the word “prayer” actually means “bonding and attachment.” The fundamental objective of prayer is not so much seeking answers or relief from our trouble but strengthening and renewing one’s spirit, bond, and attachment with God Almighty Himself. When the bond with God is solid and tight, the problems disintegrate of their own volition.

During prayer, especially in a synagogue, a person’s soul can divest itself of any physical limitations of the body. The soul ascends to the Garden of Eden and strolls around the elevated dimensions. After one’s prayers, the physical world will again get its clutches into the soul when one must proceed with the day’s obligations.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman taught that prayer before God has (the potential for) a total and complete spiritual and soul redemption from the constraints in one’s life (a spiritual high). “If all of Israel would pray with the concentration necessary, and if the warmth and light generated from the love for God created through the exercise of prayer did not dissipate and evaporate after one’s prayers, Messiah would have come in a physical sense.”

At the beginning of the book of Genesis, prayer is compared to “a ladder set on the ground with its top reaching into the heavens.” Prayer is the medium to connect “ground”— that part of the soul clothed in our bodies and on earth — with “heaven” — the higher part of our souls, the part too grand to descend into our lowly bodies and existence. Prayer is a bridge between ground and heaven that perfects our souls.

When a person puts himself into the words of the prayer as designed by the great mystical traditions, not only is the coarseness and physicality of the earth elevated and refined to a purer, more translucent form, but the perspective of the heavens and the experience of Godliness is drawn back down to the earthly level from which the person prays.

When a person prays with the complete concentration necessary, every letter, word, thought, and spark of energy generated from the prayer creates angels who serve as messengers to God. These exact messengers return with the fruits of our directed prayers.

When Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), founder of Chabad Chassidism, neared his twentieth year, he decided, with the consent of his wife, Rebbetzin Sterna, to travel to a center of Torah learning and service of God.

At that time, Vilna and Mezeritch were the great Jewish capitals of Eastern Europe. Vilna was the seat of Rabbi Eliyahu, the famed Gaon of Vilna, and Mezeritch was the hometown of Rabbi Dov Ber (the Maggid), leader of the Chassidic movement.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman said, “I debated where I should go. I knew that in Vilna, one was taught how to study, and in Mezeritch, one could learn how to pray. I was somewhat able to study, but I knew very little of prayer. So, I went to Mezeritch. The Almighty blessed me with making the right choice.”

To pray properly takes lots of work and is a gift granted by God.

Chapter 299

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" Rabbi Ezagui opened in 1987 the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the Island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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