Periodically, we will include segments designed to assist us as we seek to raise our tefilos to higher levels of heart, mind, and connection. In this segment, we will offer one suggestion that can make a huge difference in our entire tefilah and in our lives: PREPARATION!
It is well known that any worthwhile endeavor requires preparation. The greater the endeavor, the greater is the necessary preparation. A brain surgeon requires far more education and training than a nurse or general practitioner. This applies to every discipline and area of life. In order for one to become successful at anything meaningful, preparation is a necessary and crucial prerequisite.
Certainly, we would expect that speaking to and beseeching the Master of the Universe would require intensive preparation. It should require many years of hard work, toiling to understand the structure of our tefilos, as well as the inner meaning of the words (not merely translation) and the deep connection we can enjoy through our tefilos.
It would certainly also be a given that we would arrive a few minutes early to such an important meeting with the Master of the Universe. Would anyone run in late to a meeting with the President of the United States or even the CEO of the company where he works?
Davening with focus, heart, and mind is very challenging for most of us. If you are consistently devoting time to reading our weekly segments or listening to Rav Finkelman’s Weekly Tefilah Focus on Torah Anytime and internalizing them as you daven that tefilah that week, or if you are devoting consistent time to any sefer or shiur on tefilah and internalizing what you learn, then you are firmly on the road to reaping the many vast benefits that tefilah has to offer.
Another crucial form of preparation is to arrive to our tefilos with enough time to sit quietly and contemplate. The Bach writes that we cannot reach the level of tefilah with kavanah on our own. Hashem must grant us that privilege. What we must do to procure that gift is to show Hashem how much we want to connect with Him. We do that by showing up early to minyan and sitting quietly to try to free ourselves from the outside world and to contemplate that we are soon going to be standing before the Master of the Universe and speaking to Him. The same is true of those davening at home. Create a buffer of time and space before starting tefilah. Sit in a quiet spot in the house and prepare. When we later reach Shemoneh Esrei, we ask Hashem to help us focus: “Hashem, s’fasai tiftach, u’fi yagid t’hilasecha (Hashem, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise)” – Hashem please allow me to focus and be present with heart and mind. If we have done our part, then Hashem will grant us the privilege. “Ha’ba l’hitaheir, m’say’in oso (He who comes to purify himself, he is assisted).” [based on Rav Shimshon Pincus zt”l in his sefer, Sh’arim BiTefilah – Gates of Prayer, quoting the Bach, siman 98]
We have presented two ways that we can show Hashem that we really want to connect with Him through focused, heartfelt, and mindful tefilah:
- Choose from the multitude of resources available on Tefilah, and set aside consistent time to learn more about our beautiful tefilos.
- Create a buffer of at least two minutes to sit quietly before each tefilah to clear your mind of distractions from the outside world and contemplate that you are soon (in Shemoneh Esrei) going to be standing before Your Father, the Master of the Universe. Ask Him to help you focus and block out distractions. Then ask again, in thought, when you say “Hashem, s’fasai tiftach.”
Implementing these two forms of preparation will have a profound impact on your tefilos and on your life.
May Hashem accept our sincere efforts and grant us the privilege of focused, heartfelt, and mindful tefilos, which will result in strengthening our connection with Hashem and bringing us to the ultimate redemption, which we so longingly yearn for.
To access print versions of previous Tefilah segments, please visit OU Torah’s Search portal, select the Topic of “Tefillah,” and then select “Weekly Tefilah Focus” from the Series list.
For Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman’s video and audio shiurim, which are based on our Tefilah Focus segments but also include his insightful and inspiring additions, please visit TorahAnytime.com or simply search for “TorahAnytime Rabbi Finkelman.”
You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.