The rabbi said that in our time, especially in America, we’re so busy with work and other things that we don’t spend enough time in the morning on prayers. Is it better this way, I mean praying without much concentration, or are we better off just not praying at all?
No, everybody should continue to pray that way; only that at least for the first bracha, they should put in all they have. In the first bracha, the blessing which concludes with the words ברוך אתה השם מגן אברהם, you should be moiser nefesh! Put all your koichos into it! Because that bracha is m’akeiv according to the din, it’s very important to at least concentrate by the first bracha in shemonah esrei. The rest, if a person is ambitious he can undertake a program; every day he should try to do a little more, and by the time he’s in his sixties or seventies maybe he’ll be trained to keep his mind concentrated on the davening.
It’s a great pity! Because when we pray without any thought, a big part of our lives is wasted. If we would learn, first of all, what it means – you have to learn what the words mean. There are deep things there and they deserve to be studied. By the way, I would like to talk about this all the time, but I know it would be boring for you. On tefillah, I would like to talk for a whole year. An entire year only on the subject of prayer. We could take every word and analyze it; we could study it deeply and it would be worth every minute. I have it written down at home; it’s one of my specialties.
But whatever it is, it’s a career that is available for every Jew and it’s a tragedy that lives are being wasted. I said that it’s a cancer, the sickness of what we are doing with our davening today. The truth is that it’s one of the greatest failings in Jewish life today; and therefore, to restore tefillah to its proper place should be one of our highest aspirations.
TAPE # R-28 (February 1973)