In the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Vayeitzei, the Torah tells about Yaakov’s famous dream on his way to his uncle Lavan. In his dream he saw, “A ladder standing upon the earth and the top of the ladder reached into heaven and G-d’s angels ascended and descended upon it.” G-d appears to him in the dream and says, “I am G-d, the G-d of Abraham your father, and the G-d of Yitzchak. I will give to you and to your descendants the land on which you are lying.'”
According to our sages, the ladder represents our prayers through which we connect to G-d and through which G-d’s blessings descend to us. Through our prayers we ascend and become closer to G-d and in turn G-d’s blessings descend to us.
Prayer is a very important part of Judaism and our connection to G-d. As a result we pray three times daily; Shacharit (Morning Prayer), Mincha (Afternoon Prayer) and Maariv (Evening Prayer).
The prayers have their roots with our patriarchs, Abraham, Yitzchak (Isaac) and Yaakov (Jacob).
The Morning Prayer is associated with Abraham; the afternoon prayer with Yitzchak and the evening prayer is linked to Yaakov, who, as told in this Parsha, prayed in the evening, before going to sleep.
Although the structure of the prayers, as we know them today, have been compiled many years later by Ezra the scribe and the Men of the Great Assembly, the concept of the three prayers are related to the patriarchs.
In Hebrew, prayer is called “Tefilah.” Why?
ne reason is that “Tefilah” comes from the word connect. Through prayer we connect to G-d.
In Yiddish prayer is called, “Daven.” Why?
Some say that the Yiddish word for prayer “Daven” comes from the word “D’Avuhon” which in Aramaic means “from our fathers.” As mentioned above, the three prayers are associated to our forefathers; Abraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.
Why do many Jews sway back and forth while praying?
In Psalms (35:10) Kind David refers to prayer as, “All my limbs say G-d, Who is like you.” Through swaying our entire body (“all my limbs”) is involved in the prayers.
Another reason: Our soul is likened to a candle (Proverbs 20:27). Just as a flame of the candle continuously moves and flickers, rising upwards, so too, when we pray, our soul (“candle of G-d”)
constantly moves in its desire to connect to its source – to G-d.