Why Don’t Jews Like To Pray?

August 22, 2013
BY Maayan Jaffe
The art and essence of tefila

THE POWER TO HEAL
Rabbi Eli Glaser runs Soveya, an organization dedicated to helping people refrain from overeating and emotional eating. He said that for those clients who are open to it, he uses prayer to help keep them focused — to heal.

“I try to help my clients realize that they should feel whole, feel full, not with food but with God,” he said. “We use prayer so we can give our problem to God and use God as a vehicle for dealing with our issues, as opposed to stuffing ourselves with food.”

Rabbi Glaser said that people often look at compulsive overeaters and ask how can they — intelligent, sophisticated people — engage in behavior they later regret?
He said it is because at the time, they lose clarity and objectivity.

“Prayer is a great tool to help prevent us — counterbalance us — from rationalizing those actions with food that we will always regret,” said Rabbi Glaser.

SOVEYA PRAYER FOR ABSTINENCE
Please, Hashem, help me to overcome my desire and craving for unhealthy foods. Give me the clarity and commitment to stick with the necessary changes. Help me overcome my fears — fear of giving up foods I enjoy, fear of the extra work inv-olved in preparing healthy food, fear of being hungry or feeling deprived. Please help me eat so I can properly care for the precious body You have entrusted to me. Without this body working properly, I cannot fulfill Your mitzvos and carry out the many responsibilities You have given to me. I’ve tried so many times to eat right and failed just as many times with this difficult nisayon — I can’t do it without Your limitless power behind me. Please give me the willingness to ask for Your help today.

THE BIG Ks
When talking about prayer, one often hears the terms kevah and kavanah.

Kevah is a Hebrew word that means fixed. Kavanah means intention. In Judaism, the prayers said are fixed, written down and repeated during every service.  Even so, as Jews, we strive to pray not merely as if we have memorized the text, as if reciting the words without meaning, but rather we strive to be focused and intentional, adding meaning to the words being said.

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief — mjaffe@jewishtimes.com

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COMMENTS
  1. Curt Russell

    As a Christian, I enjoy reading the JT to further my understanding of all things Jewish. I found this article fascinating, but wanted to take issue with one statement attributed to all of the Rabbis… “Prayer is not begging and pleading with God for help — that is a Christian idea, they say”. In the sense of modern western cultural Christian practice, there is some truth in this statement. There is a Santa Claus view of God and a Disneyland view of heaven. But this is not representative of accurate Christian theology which embodies the concept of aligning our will with God’s will. In this process, we must ask ourselves, “Am I asking for things for myself, or for the greater good that God has in mind?” This concept aligns more closely with Rabbi Aaron’s assertion that “through prayer we are not trying to move God, but ourselves.” I think most Christian theologians would agree. The battle for all humans beginning with Adam and Eve right through to you and me is the battle of “my will” versus “God’s will”. Prayer is the place where God gives us the opportunity to be part of something much bigger than ourselves. To my Jewish friends… Happy New Year… May it be filled with sweetness!

    Reply
  2. RICHARD CRYSTAL

    I don’t believe it’s a matter of Jews not liking to pray. Rather I have a problem with sitting in shul for 4 hours on the High Holidays. I never quite understood why my shul’s services have to be so long.

    Reply

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