Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Great Regulars: In an earlier column I discussed the case

of Rabbi Chanina, whose prayers were uniquely effective, and who knew that his requests would be granted by God when his words were "fluent in his mouth." This raised questions about the efficacy of prayer, to which the Gemara now gives a clear answer, in Berachot 55a: "Three things cause a person's sins to be recalled. These are: going near a leaning wall, expecting one's prayer to be fulfilled, and submitting judgment of one's fellow to Heaven." Even while praying, you are not supposed to expect an answer to your prayer; such a demand tempts the anger of Heaven. "But what then can one do?" the Gemara asks itself and replies simply, "One should increase his reliance on God's mercy."

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: The Rabbis' Mental World


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