Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 9 January 2016 / 28 Tevet 5776

The Merciful One Desires the Heart

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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With these three simple words, “Rachamana liba ba’ei, the Merciful One desires the heart (Zohar),” our Sages teach us what G-d truly wants from our prayers, and that is why prayer is defined as “the service of the heart” (Masechet a’anit 2a).

Prayer is a bond of love between us and G-d. The smartest, most skilled individual is therefore not always the one who offers G-d the best prayer. The magical ingredient of prayer is one that only G-d can measure — heart.

Sometimes the simplest and least noticed person is the one who awakens G-d's mercy with a sincere, humble prayer. Here is a story that illustrates the great power behind the prayers of the simple and unknown among us.

Staying Connected

This story illustrates both the power of prayer and the phenomenon of the “pintele yid”, that inextinguishable spark burning deep within the heart of a Jew.

Dave Freidman (not his real name) was a young Jewish businessman who spent his days in the trendy South Beach shopping mall of Miami where he owned a store. One day, Dave passed a doorway and noticed a mezuzah upon it. Without knowing why, he walked over to the entrance and placed his hand upon the mezuzah and he began to pray.

Now, David had always been troubled by his deceased mother’s request that he marry a Jewish girl. He cared little for religion. Why should he limit himself so? Besides, South Beach was far from the best place to find a Jewish girl, even if he had the slightest interest in doing so.

Yet, at this moment, with his hand upon the mezuzah, David said, “G-d, if you help me find a Jewish girl I will marry her.”

A few days later David met a nice young woman who had come to the mall to do some shopping. They chatted, enjoyed each other’s company, and agreed to meet later at a café, where it emerged from their conversation that she was Jewish! Dave remembered his prayer, wondering if this was if fact G-d’s answer to his prayer. Not long after, they decided to marry. Their first child was a girl named after Dave’s mother.

Only G-d can measure the true value of our prayers. If your words are sincere He will certainly listen.

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