May 21, 2024
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Did You Talk to God Today?

Did you talk to God today? No, I don’t mean did you daven, did you say your morning prayers. I mean, did you talk to Him? Did you really talk to God? Did you tell Him what’s on your mind? Did you tell Him what’s bothering you, what hurts you, what your desires are, what your needs are?

Some of us may not say the standard Hebrew morning prayers—perhaps some very old, sick or disabled people, some very busy mothers, or some Jews who are not Orthodox. Still, I ask the same question: Did you talk to God today?

If we really believe in God, that He did not simply make the universe, but that He cares and is involved in our lives, guides and supervises mankind, then why wouldn’t we speak to Him often? You may find it difficult to talk to God. Does it feel silly? Awkward? Is it bashfulness? Do you feel strange? Do you feel you don’t deserve to?

You will find that the more you do it the easier it is. Talk to God in any language you speak best, and argue with God, petitioning Him in every way.

Start your day by asking God that everything go according to His plan, that we act according to His will. Pray for all your needs, large or small, your financial needs, your health, your family, that your children should do well both for material success and spiritual growth. Did you thank Him for your health and the health of your family, and for the Jewish people, and for all the many things you have?

An important dichotomy in traditional Jewish thought has been that of transcendence and immanence. On one side, we look at God as being absolutely transcendental, far away from man and impossible to reach. On the other side, however, we look at God as being imminent—ultimately near and available to all who call upon Him.

This dichotomy appears in many of our prayers. In one well-known prayer, “Avinu Malkeinu,” we address God as “our Father, our King.” We see God as being close, like a father, yet we also visualize Him as being like an imperial monarch. In our blessings, we speak of God as the “King of the universe,” but in the same breath we call Him “our God,” Elokeinu. We even say “Baruch atah Hashem.” “Blessed are You,” as if we are speaking directly to Him, because He is so close.

One of the clearest expressions of this is found in the Kedusha. We repeat the song of the angels who shout, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole world is filled with His glory.” God fills all creation. There is no place empty of Him. If God is so very close, He is also very easy to reach—and all one needs is a sincere desire to do so.

Personally, I talk to God several times a day. When I am driving home after work and see my house, I thank God for helping me arrive safely, that I had a productive day at work and I tell Him that I hope I did no wrong in my dealings with people. In the kitchen, while washing the dishes, I often ask Him to help my children and grandchildren. I thank Him for my family’s health and I beg Him to help the people of Israel both materially and spiritually. I often ask Him to help all the many single men and women find proper partners for marriage, including for my own son. I ask Him to give a speedy recovery to the sick people I know.

A person who does not pray to God for all his needs, said Reb Nachman of Breslov, can be compared to an animal. An animal is also sheltered and fed without asking for it. This was not taught to be taken as a criticism of his chasidim but was just a lesson in how to truly relate to God.

The main time King David would seclude himself with God was at night, under the covers in bed. Hidden from the sight of others, he would pour out his heart to God. “I speak every night on my bed in tears,” Tehillim 6:7,

“Do you know who rescinded the heavenly decree that would have unleashed catastrophe unto our people?” asked the Baal Shem Tov to Rebbe Nachman of Horodenka. “I’ll tell you. Neither I, nor you, nor any of the great rabbis. We were saved by a woman. She came to shul, tears running down her face, and addressed the Almighty: “Master of the Universe, are You or are You not our Father? Why won’t you listen to your children pleading with you? You see, I am a mother of five children, and every time they shed a tear, it breaks my heart. But You, Father, You have so many more. Every man is Your child, and every one of them is weeping and suffering. Even if your heart is made of stone, how can You remain indifferent?” “And,” the Baal Shem Tov concluded, “God decided she was right.”

As we grow in our religious lives, we always must remember that despite all the myriads of laws and mitzvot we have to observe, it’s God, the Giver of the Torah, we must think about constantly in our lives and feel close to.

By Martin Polack

Martin Polack is a business analyst and is involved in adult Jewish education.

 

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