Let My People Know

"The foundation stone of all prayer is to thank God for the gift of being able to pray"


The more in-depth a person's study and the more details he contemplates, the more he can transform that topic into a real and tangible image, as though it is standing before his eyes.

When he begins to pray, his every word and sentence is spoken within the context of his relationship with that image. 

He prays within the concept.

He develops it and derives meaning from it throughout the prayer service.

He seeks its echo on every page and in every word. 

The prayer experience, with all of its variations, with its ascents and descents, becomes the expression of the thought that he has so profoundly studied.

For instance, a person can meditate on the meaning of gratitude.

He begins from the simplest notion:acknowledging the good that another has done. 

He then considers in-depth questions such as, "What is appreciation composed of? What is the nature of its being? How does it connect us to God?" 

Having delved into these questons from every angle, he brings the topic to his prayers. 

He searches for the themes of appreciation and gratefulness in the words that he is reciting–in his praise, requests, supplication, and thanks. 

All of these now reflect appreciation, until he reaches the Modim Derabbanan (recited by the entire congregation): 

"We thank You…for that we thank You." 

The foundation stone and precis of all prayer is to thank God for the gift of being able to pray.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Thirteen Petalled Rose, in "Prayer," p. 111 (new edition, www.korenpub.com) by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz