27. December 2017
PRAYER POINTS Getting Your Prayers Answered Understanding why and how prayer works. A Jewish perspective. Have you ever had a prayer answered? Stop for a moment and consider the implications. You live in a small town in the Midwest. There is an extremely large and unsightly pothole in front of your house. For the last four months the local municipality has ignored your persistent requests to have it fixed. Finally, in an act of frustration, you call the White House and ask for the president....
19. December 2017
PRAYER POINTS How Prayer Works Just like you need to know more than how to turn on a computer to derive its maximum benefit, prayer also requires an understanding of what makes it work in order to benefit from its unlimited potential. Praying to God to alleviate a difficult situation presents a bit of a paradox. There are two fundamental concepts of Jewish thought that would make it seem that prayer should not be able to accomplish such a task. One concept is that God causes everything, whether...
13. December 2017
PRAYER POINTS GRASPING THE HANDICRAFT OF THE PATRIARCHS When the Hebrews left Egypt, the Torah relates their situation was desperate and they appeared to be doomed. Pharaoh was pursuing them, and the sea was before them. One sage explains that, in this terrified state, they “grasped the handicraft of the Patriarchs,” a phrase that refers to prayer. Why, another sage asks, are the desperate prayers of Israel, recited in a moment of terror, compared to the “Patriarchs’ handicraft” –...
01. December 2017
PRAYER POINTS EMUNAH: THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPLE OF TEFILLAH We are told that tefillah/prayer is “among those things that stand at the pinnacle of the world,” and then the observation is made that “people nonetheless treat it lightly.” We cannot help but wonder, if tefillah is indeed so exalted, why is there a tendency to treat every day prayer lightly? This paradox is all the more remarkable because almost every individual can testify that prayer produces astounding results. The very...
27. November 2017
PRAYER POINTS MAKING IT DIFFERENT “There is only one hope. Mashiach must come soon. It must happen sooner or later, but it is up to us to hasten his arrival. “This is no time for silence! Why don’t we cry out to the Almighty to help us? It is our duty to arouse the people to cry out and pray for the Final Redemption.” …The Chofetz Chaim To the Chofetz Chaim, the power of our prayer was as real as the power of an army. He knew that if only the “troops” would rally their strength...
24. November 2017
PRAYER POINTS NEEDLEPOINT The current galut (exile) and the road to the Final Redemption appear in our eyes as a swirling upheaval. As we live through our evolving history filled with global turmoil and personal travail, we cannot help but wonder – where is the beautiful picture of the Geulah the Almighty has promised us? Can yet another war, yet another terrorist attack, yet another ailing young mother or father or child be part of the picture? At this point in our history, we can view the...
22. November 2017
PRAYER POINTS THE ALARM After the devastation of World War II, with its inconceivable catastrophic impact on the Jewish people, one could hardly contemplate what a worse scenario might look like. Yet, the Chofetz Chaim’s terrifying prediction of a third world war that would make the other wars seem “like child’s play.” The lack of emunah that existed during World War I was child’s play compared to the lack of emunah that existed during World War II. Yet, the darkness in the world...
13. November 2017
PRAYER POINTS A BATTLE OF FAITH AND PRAYER IF THE GOAL OF THE HARDSHIPS IS TO BRING US TO TURN TO THE ALMIGHTY WITH HIGHER LEVELS OF PRAYER, ONE CAN CLEARLY SEE HOW YISHMAEL IS THE INSTRUMENT BY WHICH WE CAN ACHIEVE IT. IT IS ON THE BATTLEGROUND OF FAITH AND WITH THE WEAPON OF PRAYER THAT HE ENGAGES US AND FORCES US TO FIGHT. HE PLUNGES US INTO A DEEPER DARKNESS SO THAT, AS IN THE TIMES OF OUR REDEMPTION FROM EGYPT, WE WILL LITERALLY BE FORCED BY OUR OPPRESSOR TO TURN TO GOD AND PRAY. FEARSOME...
06. November 2017
PRAYER POINTS MEET YISHMAEL Rabbinic Commentary tells us: “Yishmael was born with a bow and raised with a bow,” as it is written: and [he] became an accomplished archer… In describing Yishmael this way, the Torah conveys that his potential for bloodshed is not just the result of his training, but is an inborn trait, for he was “born with a bow.” It is this inclination that the radicalized branch of his progeny expresses so frighteningly today. Although Yishmael’s underlying fight is...
30. October 2017
PRAYER POINTS INTERPRETING THE SIGNS In our times, so many individuals and families suffer tragedies and illness. What does this all mean? People fearfully wonder where it will all lead and when it will all end. The suffering and fear, however, are themselves signs of hope, for they foretell the imminent arrival of the Geulah/Final Redemption. We are not helpless as we “wait it out,” because through the power of our prayer, we can hasten the Ultimate Redemption, when Hashem will turn all...

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