Elsewhere, Chazal state that one should look up while praying: “One who prays should lift up his eyes, as the verse implies [Eichah 3,41], I shall lift up my heart in my hands, to G-d in the heavens.'” Halachah l’maaseh, where must one direct his eyes during prayer? The Gemara reconciles these two seemingly contradictory statements. “A person who prays should lower his eyes and lift up his heart” (Yevamos 105b). By lowering his eyes a person internalizes his own lowliness before Hashem, and by lifting up his heart he recognizes how exalted Hashem is. Lifting up one’s heart in his hands implies that his hands are linked to the act of elevating his heart. Since some people have the custom to lift up their hands to the heavens while praying, Chazal warn us that we should not be satisfied with this act alone. Rather, we should simultaneously lift up our hearts, in order that our prayers should be acceptable to Hashem (Rabbeinu Yonah, Berachos 22b). Practically speaking, what does “lifting up one’s heart” mean? Since there is no physicality in the heavens, a person should consciously remove himself as much as possible from physical pleasures and matters of this world, in order to focus his mind solely on Hashem (Darkei Moshe 94,2).
Text Copyright © 2014 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org