Chapter: Chapter 01: Fundamentals of the Laws of Prayer

01. Prayer

Prayer is one of the principal expressions of belief in God. People are not perfect; they are flawed and they long to improve themselves. They therefore turn to the Creator of the world in prayer. Human imperfection is apparent on … Continue reading

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02. The Prayers of Our Ancestors and Prophets

We learn in the Tanakh that whenever our ancestors and the prophets needed help, they turned to God in prayer. The patriarch Avraham stood in prayer and begged that Sodom not be destroyed. God answered him that if there were … Continue reading

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03. The Effect of Prayer

God established a law in creation: when we awaken ourselves to approach the Almighty and request a blessing from Him, He, in turn, is aroused from above to bestow good on us, according to our needs and the world’s needs. … Continue reading

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04. Is Prayer a Biblical Obligation?

The Rishonim disagree about whether there is a Torah commandment to pray every day. According to Rambam (Sefer Ha-mitzvot, mitzva 5), there is a biblical commandment to pray daily, as the Torah states (Shemot 23:25), “Serve God your Lord,” and … Continue reading

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05. The Institution of Prayer by the Men of the Great Assembly

The Men of the Great Assembly instituted the prayers and the blessings (Berakhot 33a). They set the wording of the Shemoneh Esrei and formulated all the berakhot, including those recited before and after the recitation of Shema (Birkhot Keri’at Shema) … Continue reading

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06. The Fixed Formula (Nusaĥ)

Establishing a uniform formula that is repeated thrice daily in prayer has a certain disadvantage. Prayer is likely to become routine and one may lose the kavana that is aroused when one prays to God in her own words. On … Continue reading

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07. Instituting Three Prayers

In addition to the special prayers that our forefathers said in times of trouble, they also set times in which they prayed to God (Berakhot 26b). Avraham established Shaĥarit. It was he who first illuminated the world with his faith, … Continue reading

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08. Kavana and Those Who Find it Difficult to Concentrate

Prayer is considered avoda she-ba-lev (worship of the heart); therefore its essence is dependent upon kavana. This is what the pious and people of deeds would do: They would meditate and concentrate on their prayers until all physicality fell away … Continue reading

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