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Prayer

The Talmud in Berachot beginning of Chapter 5 gives a number of teachings for prayer. One says "Ayn omdim l'hispallel ela m'toch koved rosh" - Only pray with a heavy head. Another says "Ayn omdim l'hispallel ela m'toch dvar halacha" - Only pray upon studying and easily understandable Jewish law, not a complicated one. The Jerusalem Talmud says to study a complicated one. It also says only to pray with simcha shel mitzva, which is the joy that comes from studying Torah. Tosefos combines the concept of Koved rosh, a heavy head, with the concept of the joy of mitzvoth.

There are many ways to develop the proper preparation for prayer.

The chassidic masters have developed a formula for fulfilling the dictum of prayer with a heavy head. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch said that a person should do a cheshbon hanefesh prior to going to sleep. This should consist of first what he had planned to do that day, second what he did that day, and third what he will do tomorrow. This gives him simcha, happiness, because he wakes up the next day knowing what his service to G-d should be. As far as having a heavy head, he is aware of his shortcomings and is bitter that he did not accomplish what he set out to do the previous day, yet he is not depressed because he has already set aside time, thought about it, dealt with it, and made plans to fix it in the future. It is not good to let one's bad feelings about his failures to linger. It is best to confront them and make concrete plans how to improve on a regular basis.


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