As with all conversations with an entity outside ourselves, body language plays a central role in Shemoneh Esrei. All of these movements are outer expressions of one’s inner feelings, and allow a more profound level of interaction. Yet there is another level of communication that is even deeper and more discreet.
When Yisro was reunited with Moshe Rabbeinu, he advised him, “See among your nation strong, G-d-fearing people of integrity who are not interested in wealth” (Shemos 18,21). The wording of this statement raises a question. In light of the fact that we would expect that Moshe would have to seriously investigate people to find out if they were really of such sterling character, how could he be instructed to just “see” them?
The Zohar explains that there are six parts of a person’s body that indicate these characteristics. A person’s hair, forehead, face, eyes, lips and palms all contain signs of his spiritual level, if we only knew how to read them. Yisro instructed Moshe to look for these signs, and thereby choose the most upright individuals to lead the Jewish people (Zohar, Yisro 78a).
A person’s actions leave an indelible spiritual mark on these six parts of the body. When we are standing in prayer, even if we do not utter a word, our body signs will speak for themselves. We should be aware that our deeds speak louder than our words, and how we conduct ourselves while not reciting Shemoneh Esrei has a big influence on the power of our prayers when we come before Hashem.
Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org