Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The mind can hardly be kept still for a few moments.”

It is necessary to sort out good and evil by work and war.

As it is written in the Zohar, “The hour of prayer is an hour of battle.”

Every prayer is a part of the process of strife with reality.

Even the apparently innocent factors involved in the act of prayer, or eating, involve warfare. Man’s very existence, whether he is immersed in holy deeds or in the filthy affairs of the world, is a constant struggle with the essence of himself.

He is constantly subjected to suffering.

He strikes out and he is himself struck down in a repeated cycle of selection. 

He has to keep confronting things of this world and getting painfully involved with them.

True, one may claim that in prayer one is free, for it is the soul that prays.

But one cannot tell one’s physical body to wait outside for an hour or so until one finishes the morning’s worship.

The mind can hardly be kept still for a few moments, as anyone who prays regularly knows full well.

In fact, the Jews have a large stock of jokes poking fun at the uninvited thoughts that arise during the daily prayers.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz