Before we resume our regular series of segments, we want to take this “fresh start” opportunity to highlight a crucial aspect of Tefilah Focus that has the potential to literally change the world(s) and to change our own world(s).
For the past few years since the inception of Tefilah Focus, we have primarily been working one week at a time, one phrase at a time, to expand our understanding of the words we say so that our tefilos become more meaningful and heartfelt, which results in deeper connection with Hashem and strengthening of our emunah and bitachon.
Most of us struggle with maintaining focus throughout our tefilah, specifically referring now to just our Shemoneh Esrei. Even if we now better understand what we are saying and have greater connection and heart during certain parts of our Shemoneh Esrei, there are still other parts we may not connect with and during which we may “space out” here and there. How can we increase the percentage of time we are really “connected” and what will that accomplish?
HaRav Chaim Volozhin writes in his sefer Nefesh HaChaim that the “Magid” (an angel that the Beis Yosef, author of the Shulchan Aruch, learned with) told the Beis Yosef to be very careful not to think about Torah or mitzvos or anything else in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei. He instructed him to just focus on looking at each and every word. HaRav Chaim Volozhin points out that the Magid did not tell him to focus on the understanding of the word but rather first just the word itself. Just look at the letters and the word – each one separately. He explains that these sanctified words of the Shemoneh Esrei were placed in the minds of the 120 Elders of the Anshei K’neses HaG’dolah (the Men of the Great Assembly) by Hashem through prophecy and ruach ha’kodesh. Each precious word has a target up in Heaven, and when we merely focus our minds totally on each word, that word goes up and accomplishes great things in this world, and the worlds above that we know nothing about. That is the awesome power Hashem has invested in us. Each tefilah has a goal and great achievements waiting for us to accomplish. Each and every tefilah is a unique, one-time opportunity. If we could tangibly see what our tefilos are capable of producing, we would do everything in our power to prepare mightily before tefilah, and push our energies to the limit each and every time. Unfortunately, we cannot tangibly see the results, and our emunah lacks, leaving us with great challenges in focusing on our tefilos.
Imagine if we ourselves had been personally told by the angel that our davening will change the world! What would our davening look like?
From a practical perspective, the Ramban writes that one should not say the next word in the siddur until his eyes are looking and focused on that word. This is actually a mitzvah brought by the Sefer Chareidim. Think about the word BEFORE releasing it from your mouth. As with the entire program, we take one small step at a time. The stakes are huge. The opportunities for the world(s) and for our own eternal world are enormous. Let us consider committing to focusing in this manner during just the first brachah of Shemoneh Esrei. It will likely take quite some time to achieve that, but it may be one of the greatest investments we have ever made. May the efforts we expend bring great compassion and merit to this world, which is in great, great need right now.
You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.