Chazal tell us (Pirkei Avos 1,2) that the world stands on three pillars: Torah, avodah (Temple service) and gemilas chasadim (acts of kindness). While these three pillars certainly have a profound effect on the world as a whole, they can influence our personal lives as well. By involving ourselves with them before tefillah, each one can have a profound effect on our prayers.
The Zohar speaks about the connection between studying Torah and tefillah. “The Torah is a ‘tree of life for those who desire it.’ He who desires that his tefillos be accepted should learn Torah before tefillah” (Zohar, Mikeitz 202b).
Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz adds, “Were it not for the study of Torah a person would not be able to pray with intention. Happy is the person who can designate time for Torah study before his tefillah, so that afterwards he can pray with heartfelt desire. There is no doubt that the gates of Heaven are open for such a person” (Ya’aros Devash 2,10).
From midnight until dawn, the attribute of mercy is very potent, and Torah study is especially powerful. For this reason many Gedolei Torah like Rav Elyashiv, shlita, wake up early in the morning to learn Torah. Torah learning during this time has a major impact on the morning prayers that follow.
Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org