Meaningful Prayer is an exciting new series of short classes by Rabbi Hershel Reichman on the meaning and depth of the Shemoneh Esrai prayer. With extra focus on the simple translation of the words, as well as the intent one should have while praying, this course is sure to transform your tefila experience.
Prayer dates back to time immemorial. If we examine the lives of the avot, we find many instances where they davened to Hashem. Avraham beggedHashem to save Sedom, Yitzchak and Rivkah prayed for children, and Yaakov asked Hashem to return him to Eretz Yisrael safe and sound. Although the three prayers we know today were only formally instituted as a rabbinic commandment during the Second Temple era, the custom is ancient and stems from our forefathers.
When we wake up in the morning we should be overwhelmed by the amount of chesed Hashem put into our world. Weather, gravity, botany, and the human body are all wonders of His creation. It is fitting, therefore, that Avraham, the pillar of chesed, instituted Shachrit, the morning prayer.
Yitzchak represents the concept of kviut, unwavering commitment to Hashem. He is the pillar of avoda service. He instituted Mincha, the afternoon prayer, to teach us that although we may be harried and involved in our everyday affairs during the afternoon, we need to step back and focus on our Creator.
The prayer of Yaakov is in times of distress. He communed with Hashem on his perilous journey to Lavan and again when he was about to face Esav, who wanted to kill him. The darkness of night evokes feelings of fright. Yaakov, who instituted Maariv, the evening prayer, teaches us to turn to Hashem in our hour of need.
In a sense, Avraham and Yaakov represent two opposite extremes while Yitzchak is in the middle. Avraham teaches us to thank Hashem when life is full of bountiful goodness and chesed, Yaakov exhorts us to pray when we are drowning in pain and suffering, and Yitzchak tells us that no matter what the situation is, whether good or bad, we must always remain dedicated and loyal to Hashem.