“You are holy and Your Name is holy, and holy ones praise You every day, forever. Blessed are You, Hashem, the holy G-d.”
Prayer should be a mortifying experience. We stand before Hashem, Who is so exalted that no creature can possibly fathom or express His praise. How can we possibly meet this challenge and properly describe His greatness?
In the third blessing of Shemoneh Esrei we mention that kedoshim praise Hashem every day. During the Kedusha, recited during the repetition of Shemoneh Esrei, we make mention of some of these kedoshim – the Seraphim, burning angels. These Divine messengers have such a clear perception of G-d’s power that they are constantly set into flame as a result. Obviously, we are not meant to copy their behavior.
On the other hand, we often take the opposite approach. We have already resigned ourselves to our inability to concentrate during tefilla, and rush through Shemoneh Esrei while our minds are occupied with other matters. How can we strike a balance between these two extremes?
During Shemoneh Esrei we are meant to look beyond ourselves. For at least five minutes, we are meant to be completely focused on Hashem and the Jewish people. For this reason none of the blessings is written in the singular.
Herein lies the secret to successful prayer. Before starting Shemoneh Esrei, we should remove ourselves from the picture and think only about Hashem and His people. During the first three blessings of Shemoneh Esrei, the recognition that His grandeur is the single source of strength in the universe should help us focus on the rest of our prayers. This thought will lift us above the level of the Seraphim and elevate our tefilla to the highest level.
We can attain the highest level of praise during prayer by focusing on Hashem’s greatness and forgetting about ourselves.
Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org