Mishnah Insights: Berachos 5:1

Mishnah Berachos 5:1 – Preparation Before Prayer

Continuing with prayer, the Mishnah addresses the recommended state-of-mind to acquire, before the Shemonah Esrei, standing prayer, when we stand before H’Shem as if standing in front of a king. (And how much more so, since He is sovereign King of the Universe). The required state to foster is one of seriousness, denoting humility and awe before H’Shem. This is based upon the following pasuk (verse): serve the L-RD with fear [awe], and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11, JPS 1917 Tanach). In other words, the psalmist relates the understanding that even while rejoicing, we should still simultaneously tremble with fear, so that we do not get carried away with the nature of our rejoicing. This is true and essential reverence, in service towards H’Shem. There is not laxity permitted in regard to this manner of approaching H’Shem; yet, too often this ideal is diminished by our sense of expediency, casualness, and distractedness.

How can a sense of gravity be acquired, before approaching H’Shem in prayer? The Mishnah states that it was the practice of pious men, to take an hour ahead of time to prepare for prayer. They would focus their hearts on HaMakom, the place where G-d resides in Shomayim (Heaven). Today, not many are able to cordon off an hour of time before prayer; however, there is a custom, particularly amongst Chassidim to study an inspirational text from chassidus before prayer, in order to elevate one’s thoughts toward G-d. Thus, by meditating on G-d’s greatness, calming the mind through breathe work, or drinking a cup of tea while reflecting on kitvei kodesh (holy scripture), these may all be acceptable means of preparation before prayer. (However, on a personal note, I do not recommend the use of a mantra; the idea is to uplift our thoughts, not numb the mind).

Blue Dye

Like turquoise, akin to sapphire am I, techeles blue, I am called. As lofty as the throne of Elokim; and, as lowly as the chillazon snail. Encapsulated within a single thread, tied around a religious fringe, reminding the wearer of Shomayim; and, the ocean of wisdom called Torah. Comprising the regal clothing of the Kohein […]

Blue Dye — Breathing Inspiration

Meditation: Periphery

B”H

March 18, 2020

In the small corner of the world where I live, Corona virus has not yet hit the city, nor the county. Yet, initially, I had been taking the immanent threat more seriously than others in the community. Now, others should feel more compelled to do so, because of new restrictions being implemented within the city.

Coincidentally, I have arrived full circle within the framework of my belief and practice. Having been through many defining moments on my derech (path), I am at the footstep of the door of new beginnings in the midst of uncertainty. A place where opportunity prevails, and creativity coexists with an acceptance of the way life is at any given moment in time, including national crises.

For myself, I foresee that the traditions of my religion will play an even more important role during these troubling times of “hunkering down.” For amidst the chaos, these will continue to bring a sense of structure to my life. I will avail myself of them.

Additionally, I am learning that when nisyonos (trials) increase, I feel more drawn to G-d, replete with a compelling inclination to seek that place of tiferes (harmony) within myself, having been created in G-d’s image, as all mankind is. Yet, the responsibility to adhere closely to godliness is ours.

So, while I may remain on the periphery, as all of us may experience, within the confines of our solitude, I reach out to Shomayim (Heaven). And, I remain confident in my bitachon (trust) in H’Shem (the L-RD), that all will proceed according to His ratzon (will).

“Out of heaven He made thee to hear His voice, that He might instruct thee.”

– Deuteronomy 4:36, JPS 1917 Tanach