The early masters asked why prayer was ordained, since
G-d knows everything that man will request
We find in the Zohar
that the Infinite Being does not have any representations whatsoever, even through
the simplest point. The question then immediately arises, how can we call Him
by so many names, and speak of Him with so many descriptions? How can we make
use of so many representations in praying to G-d?
The Zohar also provides
us with an answer, and says that "He is called loving and merciful in order
that He might be known." When we want G-d to have mercy on us, then (to the
extent that we can express it) He constricts His essence in the word "Merciful,"
in the Lights and vessels of the letters that make up this word
men of the Great Assembly knew the transmission of G-dly Life Force that is necessary
at all times, evening, morning and noon. They therefore ordained [an order of
worship, containing] all the words and letters necessary [to transmit this Life
Force]. G-d had granted them the wisdom to do this
Everything in the
worship service is calculated according to this necessity with great accuracy.
Thus, in the Amidah, we call G-d, "The great, the mighty, and the fearsome."
Our sages comment, "If Moses had not used these words, and the men of the
Great Assembly had not ordained them, [we would not be able to presume to say
them]. [From both Moses and the Great Assembly, we see that] these [words and]
letters are necessary in order to bring a vital element of Life Force to the universes.
a person makes up his own prayers and does not know the way of Truth, his word
combinations cannot accomplish this.* For who knows if the transmission of Life
Force to the universes can take place through the words he uses?
still remains. How does the transmission of Life Force depend on our speech and
It is written, "From my flesh, I shall see G-d" (Job 19:26).
[By understanding the human body, we can also understand G-d's ways.]
is filled with life force and breath, spread inside him. When he wishes to speak,
he must constrict this breath through his larynx, and modulate it with his mouth,
lips, tongue and teeth. He can then express it as he desires, and only then can
his speech, voice and wisdom be detected. [He can communicate] because his life
force, wisdom and voice are constricted in his speech.
When a righteous
person stands in prayer, he certainly attaches and binds his thought and life
force to the Infinite Essence, which is a simple formless Unity. When he begins
to speak, he transmits the Creator's Life Force into his words and speech. As
these leave his lips, they are very strongly bound to his breath and life force,
constructed into the sounds that he expresses.
Then (to the extent that
we can express it), the Infinite Essence is bound to this person's breath and
life force, and is modulated and constricted in his expression of words.
Magid Devarav Le Yaakov 269)
*Nevertheless, in addition to
formal service, private prayer is extremely important. (See Shoot!)
Selected and translated by
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (The Chasidic Masters/Moaznaim)