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Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tyre?

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Then I’ll get down on my knees and pray,
We don’t get fooled again,
No, no!
The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again

As Jews, prayer has always been sacrosanct – a first, rather than a last resort. King David himself was defined by prayer: veani tefilati – “ I am my prayer”. Prayer is our means for connection and dialogue with G-d. That having been said, all of us, without exception, will have found ourselves questioning the efficacy of our prayers, at one time or another. After all, is it not natural to have doubts along the road of faith?

But, more importantly, how are we to understand our own doubts? Is it really natural to have them? Or should I be ashamed of these sometimes fleeting thoughts?

The Ishbitzer Rebbe, the 19th century rabbi and founder of the Izhbitzer-Radzyn dynasty of Hasidism, describes three distinct dimensions that G-d operates in our lives.

The first dimension is where God is not known in the world. There are areas for each of us where we feel in life God’s presence is hidden from us. The second dimension, is where God’s presence is palpable and manifest. We just feel it. The third area, is somewhere in between these two extreme dimensions. God’s presence is sometimes manifest and other times hidden from us. It is in this area alone that the realm of prayer operates.

In the first and second areas, a person may choose not to pray either because it seems a pointless exercise or because he feels he is blessed without any exertion in prayer. In the third area, where the individual sometimes has experienced that Divine presence and on other occasions has not, the individual will believe in the necessity to pray since he knows that his prayers carry weight.

The efficacy of prayer is the subject of contention in the Parsha that we read this week. The Jewish people found........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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