On Tuesday evening, April 27, Tuesday Timely Torah Talks, hosted by Chazaq, featured Rabbi Menachem Nissel, well-known author of Rigshei Lev, who shared powerful insights about prayer. Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, Operations Manager of Chazaq, interviewed Rabbi Nissel.
Rabbi Nissel shared that “every moment in life is another opportunity for prayer.” He acknowledged that life is a rollercoaster, and Hashem wants to keep us close. There is not a moment in life when we don’t feel some anxiety and this is because Hashem wants us close. Rabbi Nissel spoke about his two teachers, Rav Moshe Shapiro and Rav Shlomo Wolbe. Rav Moshe Shapiro davened with great emotion. When he discovered that his cancer had returned, he immediately went to Kever Rachel. He said that this is the place to cry to Hashem. It’s the place of tears. He cried for five hours in prayer there.
Rav Wolbe regularly davened Minchah as soon as it was halachically possible, as he didn’t want to wait too long to speak to Hashem again during the day. “Everything my teachers went through, they turned into opportunities for prayer.” Rabbi Nissel noted that in our lives there is always something going on. He shared that Rav Wolbe and Rav Shapiro’s teachings permeate every page of his sefer, Rigshei Lev.
Rav Wolbe taught the one thing to look for in a future wife is that she has love of life. The wife has a stressful job at home. A woman with natural joy of life can always keep a smile. He taught that there is tremendous blessing when a woman has this tendency not to be anxious.
Rabbi Nissel shared that women today need to hear good enough if the house is mostly clean and the kids don’t perfectly match, that’s okay. This will remove layers of stress. Rav Shapiro told Rabbi Nissel that the goal of his sefer should be to make the life of women easier.
Rabbi Nissel shared that when he teaches young women, he tells them to work on the quality of their prayer and not worry about quantity. He then taught the prayer obligation of women, which is ideally Shacharis and Minchah. However, he taught that the prayer obligation for women is a matter of custom, and married women with small children are exempt, according to the Chazon Ish. They have the same halachah as one embarking on a journey when it was so difficult to pray during his time. Women are constantly juggling raising children, work, and chesed work. Of course, more than ever we need prayer now. He stated, “Their prayers are so powerful!” According to halachah, men are obligated three times a day and women ideally two times. Rabbi Nissel advises women who have small children to complete morning blessings and Sh’ma every day. Though women are exempt from the positive time-bound mitzvah of reciting Sh’ma, they should still recite Sh’ma.
He then pointed out that “the most important woman davener in history was Chanah. We learn more from her prayers than from any woman in history. We learn so many halachos from her prayers.”
He then spoke about why women are so much better at praying. Shavuos was a marriage between B’nei Yisrael and Hashem. We were the bride. A woman runs the home and waits for her husband to give her what she needs. “Women are naturally daveners. Prayer is essentially feminine. Their essence is prayer. They are naturally good at it.”
Rabbi Meirov asked how we can have good kavanah when we say the same words every day. Rabbi Nissel acknowledged that it’s hard to keep focusing and to talk to Hashem and say what’s on your mind. Rav Wolbe taught that you take a train through the Alps and as you sit there you see the beautiful mountains. If you blink for a moment, you see the same mountain from a different angle. That train is our journey of life. If you are in touch with what’s happening in your life, prayer is different each year. Your life is constantly changing, and so how you pray is different. Before you start praying, stop and think about what you need to talk to Hashem about. Some words will be like a light going through a prism. What’s on your mind, you will see in those words. Also, we need to spend time learning what the words mean and how they apply to our life. “Find words that talk to you and focus on them.” He explained, “Real life should impact the way you see words in your t’filah.”
Rabbi Meirov asked how to teach our children the power of t’filah? Rabbi Nissel shared that we have to be role models. They have to see us praying. When children see their mother lighting candles Friday night and davening, this is how a child learns emunah.
Rabbi Nissel concluded, “Prayer works! All Hashem wants is that relationship with you that comes from the heart. We have infinite power if we call out to Hashem.”
This shiur can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber