Friday, July 25, 2008

The Service of the Heart

Someone once asked Rav Noach of Lechovitz, zt”l, “Isn’t prayer what we do when we praise the King for all the great things that He does, or ask Him to fulfill our needs? Why does the Gemara call it a service, an avodah, of the heart?”
Rav Noach responded, “The heart is like a field. It is only after a field has been well worked that one can plant in it and look forward to a good harvest. Before a field is worked, it is not worthy of being called a field. It is merely a desolate plot of land. The heart is the same. Prayer works our hearts out thoroughly and gives us the ability to connect to Hashem and feel the way a Jew should!”
The Chasam Sofer, zt”l, answered differently. “The reason why prayer is called an avodah is because we really don’t have the ability to do anything to serve Hashem of our own accord. The most we can do is yearn to serve Him and beg to be worthy of doing so until we reach the level of truly loving Hashem. We see this from the words of the book of Tehillim, especially chapter 119. Since the only way we come to serve Hashem is through pleading with Him to be found worthy of doing so, prayer is called service. This is also why the Gemara in Taanis 2a teaches that we come to love Hashem with our whole hearts through prayer. We can do nothing else but continuously daven to Hashem until He has mercy and brings us a little closer to Him!”

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