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TEFILAH-----why? 2

René Posted - 16 May 2001 13:56
Do we have scriptures that specifically tell us this?

And since He is perfect, why does Abraham play that arguing game with him over how many righteous people must inhabit Sodom in order that it be saved?

And what good is prayer (I know this has been discussed before but I'm still confused). If everything that happens is Hashem's will what good is prayer?

MODERATOR Posted - 16 May 2001 18:30
The characteristics of Hashem - that he is all-powerful, that He is perfect, etc. etc. - we know from a combination of Torah shebal peh, and tradition that was handed down from generation to generation.

Incidentally, the term "scriptures" is used almost exclusively by Christians. We simply say "Torah". The literal difference is that the phrase "scriptures" only includes part of the Torah, i.e. the written part. "Torah" includes the entire authoritative body of the Law.

The episode with Avraham, and all prayer in general, is made for the benefit of us, not that Hashem needs us to pray to give us something. Prayer brings us closer to Hashem, and gives us an awareness and understanding that everything that we get in this world is a direct gift from G-d - both vitally fundamental acquisitions on our part.

So Hashem says, "I will give you whatever you are destined to have ... provided you pray for it. By your asking me for all that you desire, you will create a relationship with me, where you will be aware of My presence in your life."

Our awareness of Hashem's presence in our lives is part of the Mitzvah of believing in Him.

A second element in prayer is the exercising of our own "muscles" of mercy. When we pray for someone, we awaken within ourselves our natural feelings of mercy and compassion that is in the soul of every Jew.

So when Avraham "fought" with Hashem for Sodom, he was actually developing his capacity for compassion and to fight for the well being of his fellow human beings. Hashem wanted to both test Avraham and to involve him in this "exercise" for the sake of Avrohom's personal development and growth.

Incidentally, the literal translation of the word "tefilah" does not mean to "pray" but rather to "be aggressive" or "assertive". It comes form the word "palel", which means "aggression." What Avrohom Avinu did by Sodom was really what tefilah was meant to be.

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