Back to Main Page

Depend On It

By: Rav Moshe Stavsky

One of the areas of our עבודת ה' which we constantly strive to improve is the Mitzvah of Tefilla. Developing a relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu through tefilla seems to be absolutely fundamental to our religion and in fact to anyone seeking a religious experience and connection to G-d.

This being the case, Chazal make a comparison which at first seems quite strange. The gemarah in masechet berachot brings an opinion that ‘tefillot keneged korbanot tiknu’. That is – that the various tefillot that we daven were formulated to correspond to particular korbanot. In fact, we know that the times when we are allowed to say the various tefillot correspond directly to the times when the various korbanot that were brought. What seems strange then is the following: One would think that if one mitzvah was created to “match up” with another mitzvah there would be a great similarity between the two mitzvot. Yet, when we look at these two mitzvot – korbanot on one hand, and tefillot on the other, it would seem that you cannot find two mitzvot which are so different from each other. The idea of sacrificing animals to G-d is so far removed from our own religious experience that we find it a strange way of serving הקדוש ברוך הוא. Indeed, the רמב"ם in הלכות מעילה explains that all of the קרבנות  fall under the category of חוקים, מצות which we cannot readily fathom their reasons. Both the details and the greater meaning behind the sacrifices are so difficult for us to comprehend or even to relate to. תפילה  or prayer - on the other hand is the basic of any religion. Praying to G-d is so logical in the context of religion that one would be hard pressed to imagine a religion which does not incorporate some element of prayer to G-d. Why then would חז"ל say that תפילות were instituted to correspond to קרבנות? It would seem that these two מצוות share nothing in common!

Perhaps with a slightly different perspective on the מצוה of תפילה we can see a very close connection between תפילה and קרבנות, and also deepen our understanding of prayer in general. We tend to think of prayer as requesting of G-d to sustain us and give us the things that we need in life. While this is true, when we look at the formulation of the ברכות of the שמונה עשרה we see that each ברכה ends with a recognition that G-d alone is the source of the what we are requesting i.e. – "כי גואל חזק אתה..."  followed by the ברכה"ברוך אתה ה' גואל ישראל". Recognizing that G-d is the only source of our redemption, health, etc.., is a major part of prayer. That is, that we are not merely pleading with G-d to give us our needs (Doesn’t he know what they are?) but we are expressing our complete dependence on him for those needs. This element of "התבטלות" recognizing our complete dependency on G-d can, I believe, give us an insight to the connection between תפילה  and קרבנות. The existence of חוקים – although we can’t comprehend their reasons - teach us that "לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם". G-d’s understanding and knowledge are beyond our understanding. Even though we don’t understand his reasons we are bound to his commandments because we are "מבטל" our logic and understanding before him. With this insight we can see that the root of both תפילה and קרבנות is our readiness to recognize our dependence both in terms of our needs and in terms of our understanding to that of הקדוש ברוך הוא.

May we be זוכה to continue to grow in our understanding of תפילה and may merit soon in the realization of our daily prayer "והשב את העבודה לדביר ביתך"

Shabbat Shalom




Back to top