Praying with Emotion


Praying with Emotion

June 11, 2018
Orit Esther Riter

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Rabbi Yoseph Soloeveitchik of the Brisker dynasty ztk’l taught that tefillah is the method in which the soul expresses itself through words and is able to release the turmoil within.    How do we pray?  Out of rote because this is what we were taught we must do or with powerful sincerity filled with emotional outburst?  For most, it varies each day.

The challenge is to allow ourselves to get in touch and let go of those emotions. Many of us though subconsciously wish not to acknowledge them.  It is only in times of great difficulty or by contrast immense joy where we can no longer contain them, that we  find Hashem and wish to speak to Him.  Then why are we ‘instructed’ to pray when the feelings are not connected to the lofty essence of tefillah?

Simply speaking, Rav Soloveitchik writes, it is because every day we must view ourselves in the midst of a crisis, c”v.  Every moment we should see ourselves and the world around us in desperate need of the redemption to take place.  If we take notice of the tefillot in the siddur we will find that at times the words express feelings of elated joy and gratitude and yet at other times we profess humbleness and shame and beseech rachamei Shamayim.

The reason is so that we can see Hashem in all our path of emotions; those we encounter in our daily routine and the stormy feelings that arise from the soul.  The spectrum of feelings all lead us to one address; it is all from Hashem and we cannot do anything without His loving care and intervention.  We are forced to acknowledge the emotions, feelings of dependency and vulnerability to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and cast them to His care.

Tefillah is an amazing method that Chazal have devised to ensure the crumbling of the ego and the humbling of the soul.


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