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the purpose of tefillah? As noted above, tefillah is extremely complex.
Judaic dialectic plays mischievously with two opposites, two irreconcilable aspects of prayer. It [first] announces prayer as selfacquisition, self-discovery, self-objectification and self-redemption. . . . Yet there is another [second] aspect to prayer: prayer is an act of giving away. Prayer means sacrifice, unrestricted offering of the whole self, the returning to God of body and soul, everything one possesses and cherishes.
It [prayer] is an introspective process, a clarifying, refining process of discovering what one is, what he should be, and how to achieve the transformation.
Prayer is the soul’s yearning to define what truly matters.
At times prayer is [partially] described as an unburdening of the soul, a pouring out of the heart.
It is a cry, an elementary outburst of woe.
It is an ultimate reliance on God.
Embedded in tefillah are also other very important elements, for tefillah also goes by the term avodah she-balev (“service/ offering of the heart”).635 Pluralistic Jewish tradition incorporates the following elements within tefillah:
It is a thrust for spiritual upliftrnent.636
It is an exercise in spiritual growth.637
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629 Soloveitchik, “Redemption, Prayer, Talmud Torah,” p. 70.
630 Nosson Scherman, “An Overview: Prayer,” xii.
631 Cited by Scherman, ibid.
632 Berkovits, “Prayer,” in Stitskin, Studies in Torah Judaism, p. 90.
633 Ibid., p. 107.
634 Ibid., p. 109.
635 T. B. Taanit 2a.
636 See Heschel, Man’s Quest for God, p. 18. “Through prayer we sanctify ourselves, our feelings, our ideas.”
Cf. Albo, as explicated by Bleich in With Perfect Faith, p. 240. “Prayer effects a positive change in the worshipper’s state of spiritual perfection, thereby preparing the individual to receive beneficience and to avert evil. Prayer is thus efficacious in the sense that it effects a changed state of human preparation without effecting a change in divine will since the benefits associated with this state were always willed by God, but are willed by Him to be contingent upon man achieving the requisite state of
Cf. Hirsch, Hureb, p. 477. “He who desired to raise himself up from trouble and darkness had to be guided by words of prayer that declared life’s truth.” Ibid., p. 478. “. . . the inexhaustible source of its [Israel’s] elevation to God . . . ‘tefilloth’ in which Israel of today still raises itself up to God.”
637 See Heschel, Man’s Quest for God, p. 8. “Prayer is the essence of spiritual living. . . . Sometimes prayer is more than a light before us; it is a light within us.”
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