This past month, Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, Founder of The Shmuz, taught two engaging shiurim on the topic of emunah tools.
He pointed out that we live in a world with so much information that sometimes the basic facts lose their impact. “If you want to appreciate Hashem, understand that He is here right here. Hashem is present. That concept will change your life.” The M’silas Y’sharim teaches that that is davening. I’m davening when I’m speaking to Hashem, who is right here. When you understand that concept, you understand a tremendous concept in life. As a Jew, we have the greatest opportunity to speak directly to Hashem. When we realize this, it’s a powerful experience.
We can be very distracted, so for many of us the ability to really daven to Hashem only comes when we are in trouble. Rabbi Shafier enunciated the She’ha’kol brachah and then he translated each word. Everything is brought into existence, held in existence, and will remain in existence with Your (Hashem’s) words. We recite 100 brachos a day. We need to stop and acknowledge that Hashem is here and to have communication with Hashem.
He went on to explain that if you practice a skill for two hours a day for two years, you can become proficient at a skill. Mastery takes 10,000 hours. We spend two hours a day davening. In 13 years, that is 10,000 hours. If we use the time properly, we will become an expert. The question is: Is davening useful to you? “If you don’t work on davening, it will be an exercise in futility.” Rabbi Shafier instructs his high school students to make a request during Sh’moneh Esrei at Sh’ma Koleinu.
He then shared three simple exercises to improve your davening. First, spend one moment envisioning that you are speaking to your Creator. Do this before davening. Next, personalize every Sh’moneh Esrei. Ask for a request in your own language. Usually this is done at Sh’ma Koleinu. Third, know what the words mean. Learn what they mean, and this changes your davening. He noted that there is tremendous power in the words that the Anshei K’neses HaG’dolah wrote.
Another piece of advice is to notice the beauty and grandeur of Hashem’s creations. Take a picture in your mind’s eye, so you have that image in your mind when you are davening. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai said that if you want to change your davening, contemplate on the concept that Hashem is here.
Rabbi Shafier pointed out that a famous baseball player, Derek Jeter, would show up four hours before every game to stretch and be prepared. By the first pitch, he was four hours into the game. To change your davening and your relationship with Hashem, spend ten minutes before davening. Study the incredible features of this world. It will change your davening. This is the creation; what does it tell me about my Creator?
Rabbi Shafier shared how in the world we see tremendous diversity. Why do we need so many different species? There are 8.7 million species of animals in the world. There are 5,000 species of beetles and 800 types of ants. Chovos HaL’vavos explains that the reason for such a huge variety of creatures could be so that we receive an eye glimpse into the majesty, the brilliance, the capacity of our Creator. He shared how scientists can’t even create an environment for one species’ life cycle. When scientists try to create a biosphere, it invariably fails. The way to come to love Hashem is to look at the world around us. When people contemplate the complexity, they feel a sense of awe. Our world is complex and consistent with sunrise, sunset, seasons, etc. An orchestra has a conductor. “The world cries out that there has to be a conductor.”
He shared that we should focus on WOW, wonders of the world.
These shiurim can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber