Monday, April 16, 2012

The Thirteenth Gate - How To Pray

I know there are people who read this blog who don't know how to pray. It's one of those mysteries of life that you may be too embarrassed to admit to.

So here's some hints.

First of all, get yourself a prayer book. If you are new to this, as I was when I started seriously praying [about 15 years ago], you may need to watch how other people do it. Go to a synagogue and just find someone who looks like they know what they're doing.... and watch.

I learnt a lot from watching one of the rebetzins here. She even gave me some special tips..... which I didn't have to ask for.

Which prayer book? Typically, people use the one they have grown up with, the one their father/mother used, or the one used by the synagogue of their choice. If your parents didn't pray, you have no shul, and you don't know where to start.... then you can choose your own nusach [specific way of praying]. If you want to use the Arizal's nusach, get yourself a Siddur Tehillat Hashem - that's the one I use, wherever I go that's my way of praying. You can pray in any language, but if you can read Hebrew, I suggest you make the effort to say it in Hebrew. It may be slow going, but there's no rush, and you can do bits and pieces in English if you're impatient. No-one's judging you, this is your prayer and Hashem will hear you in whatever language you choose to do it in.

Men: you need to be putting on tefillin every morning. You need to be praying with a minyan in a shul. If that is not possible, find a rabbi and ask his advice. Women: you can pray whenever you like, no accessories necessary, but early morning is a good time to do it.

Reb Chaim Vital says in the name of the Arizal that there are twelve gates in the Heavens corresponding to the twelve tribes and each tribe has a designated entrance for their prayers. Each gate and their approach are different from the others.

Each of the tribes had their own specific Nusach Hatefillah [specific prayers]. The Holy Arizal established a Nusach that corresponds to all twelve of the tribes. The "Nusach Arizal" are the prayers for those who do not know their tribe.

The Chasam Sofer writes this concept in the name of the Maggid of Mezritz. He explains that in fact, there are thirteen gates in Heaven for our tefillos to pass through. Each gate is for one of the tribes and everyone’s tefillah can pass through the thirteenth gate.
More blog posts on praying can be found at: AbsoluteTruth613


Anonymous said...

What if one is not born into a tribe but is a Jew properly none-the-less?

Devorah said...

These days, Jews don't really know for certain which tribe they come from.

Tidbits of Torah said...

Devorah - here it is oneline for those that don't have this siddur yet.

Devorah said...

That link wouldn't load for me, does it work for you? I would still recommend that people actually buy a siddur, I think it's much easier to pray with a real book in your hands.