Tefillah Tips - Rabbi Frand

This past Saturday night Congregation Sons of Israel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey hosted its annual Mikvah Melava Malka. This year proved to be extra special because it marks the twenty-fifth year anniversary of the existence of a Mikvah in Cherry Hill. The honoree of the evening was senior Rabbi Bernard Rothman shlitta and the special guest speaker was Rav Yissachar Frand shlitta. Rabbi Frand directed his talk primarily towards the primacy of prayer in Jewish life generally and in our lives in the year 2002 in particular. In this weeks Tefilla Tips I have decided to review some of the highlights of his talk.

The first point that was discussed is that successful prayer requires a specific mindset. This mindset maintains that no one and nothing else in the universe can help me except G-d himself. Rabbi Frand referred to the Exodus of Egypt when the Jews got trapped at the Red Sea with angry Egyptian warriors on one side and the depths of the Red sea on the other. Our sages remark that at this point in history our ancestors reached deep into their souls and prayed with a rush of intensity (wouldn't you?). Rabbi Frand explained that this paramount expression of Tefilla came specifically as a result of the recognition that the outcome was completely up to G-d and G-d alone and therefore Bnei Yisrael poured out their hearts to Him

The next idea that was discussed is that a Jew needs to believe in his/her power to pray. To launch a powerful prayer one has to believe with all of his/her being that the prayer will be listened to and reacted to by G-d. Don't sell your prayers short!! It is axiomatic that the more faith you place in your Tefilla the more successful your Tefilla will be.

Rabbi Frand then discussed why prayers seem to often go unanswered. Many good people offer countless genuine prayers that don't generate the hoped for results. How do we deal with this? Three answers were presented:

1) Prayer constitutes an important ingredient in an overall relationship with G-d. Therefore along with genuine prayer must be overall G-d-like behavior as well.

2) Ultimately G-d knows what is best for us therefore despite our heartfelt prayers, G-d in His infinite wisdom may decide to decline our requests.

3) Perhaps G-d did answer our prayers; however not the way we were hoping for.

In the anxiety filled world that we live in when we truly don't know what is going to be from one day to the next we must reach for the heavens with our tefillot. We must achieve the correct mindset, believe in the power of our prayers, and call upon our Creator to protect us as He has done throughout the generations.