Tefillah Le’oni

May 12, 2021

Being that some of us may still be observing the laws of Sefira, I was going to refrain from writing anything until closer to Shabbos. However, in light of current events here in Eretz Yisroel, I felt it worthwhile to bring out an idea on something we all can do to help – namely, to daven. Because as more rockets fall from the sky (Hashem yishmor), the more we must let our prayers rise to the heavens above than ever before.

Now, before we get to the song, let’s establish a couple important concepts when it comes to prayer.
Firstly, what is tefillah? I mean, the answer would seem to be straightforward enough. It is prayer, of course. But there is much more to it. For instance, we see that the whole subject of tefillah is multifaceted. Consider its many different aspects: There is praise; there is supplication. There is the daily standard davening instituted by Chazal. There are the ongoing individual requests we make of Hashem on a regular basis. Then, there is simple communication, in which we commune with Hashem as a child with his father.

But for tonight, let’s focus on the kind of prayers that are said during times like these. The Rambam tells us that it is a Mitzvah D’oraisa to cry out to Hashem for help whenever trouble strikes the community. When we daven during troubled times, we aren’t just performing the Mitzvah D’oraisa of praying to Hashem, but we are confirming our belief that only Hashem can help us.

However – and here is where it gets tricky – some of us may find it difficult to daven… on any level! And it’s not because of our lack of belief in Hashem, but rather because of our lack of belief in ourselves, doubting if we are worthy of our prayers being accepted in the first place. Certainly today, many may be feeling (for lack of a better term) uninspired – unclear in their perception of Hashem and His ways. One might ask, ‘What would Hashem want with my measly prayer, and coming from someone feeling so disenchanted, disconnected, and distant?’

Additionally – irrespective of age or religious level – we may ask ourselves, do we genuinely feel that our tefillah has an impact? Do we truly believe that it will make a difference? What about the times that we daven with all our heart and it seemingly goes unanswered? Is Hashem really listening?

Here is where we turn to the words of Dovid HaMelech. Kapittal 102 is a prophetic prayer for every one of us in golus. תְּפִלָּה לְעָנִי כִי-יַעֲטֹף, וְלִפְנֵי ה’ יִשְׁפֹּךְ שִׂיחוֹ – The impoverished, beleaguered Yid stands before Hashem, understanding that He is available to every person, whether we are worthy or not. We know that to be worthy of Hashem accepting our prayer we don’t need to be perfect, or even close to it. We simply need to reach for the lifeline He is extending to us, and to grasp it gratefully, confident that at the other end is the One Power Who can save us.

Furthermore, Chazal teach us that the power of prayer is not a matter of kavanah as much as it is our emunah in the efficacy of our prayer and in its intrinsic strength. For our personal tefillos to work, we must not only be mindful of the words (which is, of course, very important), but we also must internalize the idea that the words we recite can truly make a difference between life and death.

Today’s song, Tefillah Le’oni, happens to be one of my personal favorites. It was sung by the one and only MBD and was composed by veteran songwriter Pinky Weber. It originally appeared on the 1999 album called Hameshorerim but tonight (for many reasons) I am using the vocal version found on the 2004 a cappella album Vokalish by the incredible Dudi Kalish and his talented choir.

And so, dear friends, when you heed the call for prayer, take a moment or two to reflect before you begin. Reinforce in yourself the belief that you and your tefilos truly have the power to effect change and that no prayer goes unanswered.

Ever.

Lyrics:
תְּפִלָּה לְעָנִי כִי יַעֲטֹף, וְלִפְנֵי ה’ יִשְׁפֹּךְ שִׂיחוֹ. ה’ שִׁמְעָה תְפִלָּתִי, וְשַׁוְעָתִי אֵלֶיךָ תָבוֹא. אַל תַּסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ מִמֶּנִּי בְּיוֹם צַר לִי

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