April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Jewish nation covers an enormous spectrum of people. There are Jews out there from all over the world, all different shapes, sizes, colors, cultures, occupations, customs, tastes and many more differences. There are also many, many different mitzvot, 613 to be exact, that just like Jews from all over the world are so different they also connect more (and less) to different mitzvot.

Personally, I always had trouble connecting to tefillah, Jewish prayer. Although we have the awesome opportunity to talk to God, it just seems so repetitive; why repeat the same things over and over again three times a day every single day? Why not just say what we feel instead of reading texts of thousands of years ago? How can we change God’s mind by just saying words? All these questions led me to years of just saying or not saying words that were empty of feeling, that really didn’t mean much to me.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my amazing rav, Rav Yehoshua Liss, and we discussed these issues. Rav Liss showed me a page in a book called Tefilat Yesharim, Prayer of the Righteous, which blew my mind. The author quotes the great Rav Kook who says, “Prayer is not a tool to change anything in God, rather to uplift and change ourselves to become closer to Him.” This means to me that when we daven we change ourselves, we improve ourselves and we show God that we aren’t the same person as we were before the tefillah. We’re using the tefillah not to change God’s mind but rather to transform ourselves into a new being that therefore is theoretically worthy of a new judgement. The chachamim, the Sages of the great assembly of 2,000 years ago, wrote our tefillot in such a way because through their wisdom and insight they were able to see what we need to be thinking about, what we need to be able to transform. By keeping with the consistency of davening three times a day these carefully thought-out words that were authored by our holy Sages, combined with a heart full of intent to grow and improve, one has the capability to really change themselves and grow exponentially over a lifetime.

After this discovery, I can honestly say that my tefillah hasn’t been the same. There are times that I am more focused and times where I am unfortunately less, but I understand what my goal is, I understand on a much deeper level what I’m doing, and that gives me the power to grow, the power to change myself, the power of tefillah.


Bram Settebrino is a student learning in Israel in preparation for entering the army.

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