What does Tefillah mean to me today?
Ever since my mom passed away 8 years ago, my views on Hashem and Tefillah have always been adapting. I experienced times in my life when I didn’t believe there was a higher power in this world than myself. I went through times when I believed in Christianity. I went through times when I thought everything happened randomly. I was all over the place. However, there was one thing that I felt during each and every one of these developmental stages: I was not happy. Deep down I knew that there was a God that loved me more than anyone could possibly imagine, and I was determined to find that happiness and love from him. Sadly, it took so long for me to find this out. But I can look back and smile because it was all part of Hashem’s plan for me.
Tefillah is the most beautiful thing in the world. Just the idea that we can speak to our Creator 24/7, we don’t need to wait on a long line to approach Him is amazing. All we have to do is start talking and he begins to listen. How can someone not love that? How can anyone not appreciate that VIP access? It truly pains me to see people talk during Tefillah. The Creator of the world, the Creator of you is standing right in front of you; He is eagerly waiting for you to start talking to him. But you decide to blow Him off and talk to your friend instead. How can anyone do that??
I once approached my friend after davening one day and I asked him, ‘‘How come you talk during davening?’’ and he gave me an answer that is unfortunately way too common and present in our community. He said to me ‘‘Mo, davening has no meaning to me. We are just expected to read off a script every single day that we don’t understand. To top it off, I can’t see Hashem in front of me. I don’t feel his presence when I’m in Shul. Why should I not talk with my friends?”
I felt just like this boy for many years until I finally understood what Tefillah really is.
Tefillah is ‘‘Service from the heart.’’ Not reading off a script, but in fact having a conversation with Hashem. Tefillah for me is done way more than 3 times a day. Just stopping and thanking Hashem for all our blessings is a form of prayer. Whenever I’m feeling down, or I begin to get upset or frustrated, I always remember what my dad once told me: “Whenever you begin to lose happiness or faith in God, just look at children with special needs.” These are children who grow up with limited cognition, missing limbs, disjointed body parts. They may never be able to walk, or talk, or marry. How lucky I am and how thankful I am to Hashem for allowing me to be healthy. How can I not be happy? How could I possibly be upset about anything?
Now one might respond, “Why should I remain happy and optimistic when things aren’t going my way? How can I be expected to thank Hashem for the problem He’s caused me?”
My answer comes in my 3 Principles of Faith:
1. God is good.
2. God will never give you a challenge unless he is 100% sure you can handle it.
3. Whenever God closes one door, He is doing that only to send us through a greater door, and the reason why we can’t understand it is because he is God and He is on a higher level than us.
I read a book every night before I go to sleep called Living Emunah by Rav David Ashear. My favorite line from the book, something that helps me through my darkest of times, is ‘‘Hashem loves you a million times more than your father loves you.’’ Let me tell you, I know how much my father loves me. He is the greatest father in the world. If someone or something can love me a million times more than my father loves me, how could I possibly not love Him and be happy with whatever He prescribes for me.
How could I love Hashem when something isn’t going my way? Not possible, because everything Hashem does is going my way. I like to say that we are walking through the maze we call life. We think the best way to go from Point A to Point B is to walk in a straight line. However, what we cannot see is the blockade that is in front of Point B. If we walked straight from Point A, we wouldn’t be able to get where we wanted to go. But Hashem Almighty is our eagle eye above. He sees ahead of the maze and recognizes the blockade In front of Point B. So in His everlasting kindness, he diverts our track to circumvent Point B and go through Point C first - ultimately leading us back to Point B. Since we are so blocked and blinded from the truth, we look at this diversion as a step back as opposed to a leap forward!
Hashem is leading us through the maze of life. He knows what is best for us. He is only doing things in our best interest.
All Hashem wants is for his children to call out to him, not off a script, but from their Heart.
What does Tefillah mean to me today? Tefillah means an unconditional love and binding agreement between us and Hashem. He will never leave us, no matter what! Whether we sin, whether we talk during davening, His love is eternal! All He asks is that we talk to Him, asking him and thanking him for all the incredible things he provides for us in our lives.
I’m proud to say that there will be no more negative adaption in prayer and belief from me. I have finally found happiness and truth.
I pray that each and every one of the Jewish people find happiness, find Hashem, and continue to fulfill his or her purpose in this world!