Prayer Before Prayer

Prayer Before Prayer

Shalom aleichem!

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Mazel tov to my brother Aaron and his wife Joey, on the birth of a daughter, Eliana Aaliyah!

Mazel tov to QC alumni Yishai Maynard and Yaffa Ross on their marriage!

Mazel tov to QC alumni Ariel Gad and Niva Kaplan-Nadel on their marriage!

Mazel tov to QC alumna Shayna Rosenblatt on her engagement to Joel Aronson!

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Reb Hillel Paritcher was born in Russia in 1795, and in his youth was a disciple and chassid of Reb Mordechai of Chernobyl, one of the great Chassidic Rebbes of the time. He later became drawn to the Chabad school of Chassidus after an encounter with Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (the first Chabad Rebbe).

Although he was not a Rebbe himself, he was widely regarded as someone of elevated stature, and even wrote original works of Chassidic philosophy (something usually reserved just for a Rebbe).

Another chassid once approached him, requesting advice: “Before prayer, I study Chassidus with great energy, but when it comes time to actually daven (pray), all the energy rapidly dissipates and my davening is not successful. What should I do?”

Reb Hillel said, “We have a Rebbe, don’t we? Go ask him!”

“But am I really supposed to travel all the way to the Rebbe every time I have a question?” replied the chassid, implying that Reb Hillel should advise him instead of the Rebbe.

“What do you think? If you don’t have an esrog, should you just take a stick and shake it?!” In other words, Reb Hillel was saying that he could not give advice in lieu of the Rebbe.

The chassid nevertheless continued to press Reb Hillel for an answer, and eventually Reb Hillel acquiesced. “Look, what do you care if youdaven before davening?” In other words, Reb Hillel was telling him that the study of Chassidus — which discusses G-d and our role in the world — can itself be considered to be part of prayer.

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It appears that one of the messages of this story is that sometimes you have to be willing to think out of the box. True, there is a time for study and a separate time for prayer. But perhaps if the time for study is alsoa time of prayer, then other issues will be resolved. Sometimes, when we change our perspective, other things seem to fall into place.

Shabbat Shalom,
Shaul

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