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love your neighbor, love Hashem
middot loving-kindness stories love your neighbor, love Hashem

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love your neighbor, love Hashem

Written by  rebbetzin malkah

art-prayer-gottleibPraying alone on Saturday nights or at the end of fast days, Rabbi Israel [Salanter] would defer his tefillah (prayer) till an hour or more after dark. When praying with the congregation, however, he would hurry to start immediately and not wait a minute beyond the earliest permissible time, so as not to hold back the congregation

So, too, he would take very long to recite the tefillah when alone. When he prayed with a congregation that would wait for him to finish, however, he would be among the first, "so as not to burden the public." Even in the month of Elul and the Ten Days of Penitence, when he would observe special stringencies, he would only take a little longer than usual to recite the first three berachot of the Shemoneh Esreh, but hurry through the rest as was his custom, and so finish together with the congregation.  --From The Mussar Movement, Volume 1, Part 2, pages 224 - 225.

 

This kind of concern for other is characteristic of Rabbi Salanter.  Despite his diligence in serving the Eternal, he would never do it at the expense of others.  The distress of others because of him was paramount in his mind.

standing on the corners praying

While this story speaks of those praying in the synagogue, I can't help but resonate with the story of Mashiach Yeshua and his admonition regarding praying at both the synagogue and the street corners to be seen.  While most of us are not on the street corners, it never ceases to amaze me that in the synagogue setting, which is supposed to help us to bring out our more righteous qualities and ascend, that people are looking to be noticed.  Their prayers are sometimes long, drawn out, and dramatic just so that others will see how righteous they are.  Their proverbial tzitzit hang so long we are all tripping on them.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray as they stand in the synagogues and in the corners of the marketplaces in order that they may be seen by sons of men. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But as for you, when you pray, go into your room, and close your door behind you, and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees the secret things will (openly) be generous to you. --Mashiach Yeshua, Matthew 6:5-6, DHE

This is not to say that prayer in the synagogue cannot be heartfelt, personal and long.  This is not what Yeshua is speaking of at all.  He is addressing when one's prayer is for the obvious purpose to be noticed, to appear holy and to cause others to wait around.  Not only is this truly selfish but the reward has been granted by being seen, and the prayers may not necessarily even having an effect.  If there are people waiting to move on and they cannot, this is where prayer becomes something of an inconvenience and an obstacle for many.

While it is important to be diligent and righteous in our service to Hashem, we must temper that also with serving those around us and showing them love and deference. Our concern for the needs of others, for the time of others, must be at the forefront of our minds as we endeavor to show love to our Creator and His creation.

 

Gospel references taken from Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels (DHE)®, © Copyright Vine of David 2010. Used by permission.


5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray as they stand in the synagogues and in the corners of the marketplaces in order that they may be seen by sons of men. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But as for you, when you pray, go into your room, and close your door behind you,[1] and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees the secret things will (openly) be generous to you.



[1] [Yeshayahu 26:20.]

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