Tefillah Tips - Post Chanukah

Every day millions of Jews worldwide open their Siddurim to pray. Some are experienced Daveners that are expert at the service they are attending to, others are beginners flipping back and forth between their native {English, French, Spanish etc.} and Hebrew, and yet others are sleep-talking like robots through the holy prayers of the day.

Looking beyond ones proficiency in the language, the prayer structure and the outstanding beauty of the prayers themselves, what exactly are people praying for? What should people be praying for?

Of course the answer is different for every person. Some are praying for health, others for happiness, and still others for livelihood, success, serenity... There is no question that prayer is very personal. BUT, if our sages coined and instituted with divine spirit a communal liturgy that has lasted since the times of the Talmud until today, and which is reflected in every traditional prayer book in the world, there MUST BE a National Kavannah we can aim for as well. Our prayers can be launched into the same spiritual sphere in the heavens as those of our late Forefathers and Mothers.

I would like to suggest a few items that should be listed on our National Kavannah agenda. If Jews worldwide would pierce the heavens in unity with the following in mind, I am confident that the Tefillot will be appreciated and attended to.

1. Shalom - Peace: Domestic, Communal, in Israel, and worldwide.

2. Wisdom - We (as individuals and as a nation) face complex daily and ongoing challenges that require genuine wisdom to deal with.

3. Truth - To discover, understand and experience lives of truth.

As the Talmud remarks, "Kol Yisroel Arayvim Zeh Lazeh - we are all responsible for one another." We need to pray not only for ourselves, but also for each other. This is one reason why all the blessings in the Amidah are in plural - Chanaynu, Bareych Aleynu, Refa'aynu - Bestow upon us, Bless us, Heal us...

Even though the lights of Chanukah have dimmed, the lessons of Chanukah continue to burn brightly into our hearts and into our lives. It is only through national Jewish unity channeled towards peace, wisdom, and truth as displayed by the Macabbees, will the eternal Jewish flame burn brightly.