Posts Tagged ‘chinam’

Prayer – Hebrew: Tefillah


Tefillah in Hebrew means  ‘prayer* from the heart’ 

The root of tefillah is pileil and comes from the prayer of Pinchas (Numbers 25) and means ‘to judge’.   Pinchas was a high priest who stood against idolatry and ‘judged’ a Midianite woman and Israelite man who had brought a plague upon the Israelites.  This definition suggests that tefillah is the ‘judging of oneself before God’ where one takes a long look at themselves (self-examination) in the presence of a holy God to ‘judge’ whether they have lived up to His potential in their lives.  

Hebrew Word Pictures

Tav – ‘Crossed Sticks’ means ‘sign or covenant’

Peh – ‘Mouth’ means ‘source or speak’

Lamed – ‘Shepherd’s Staff’ means ‘prod or urge forward’ or ‘leader like a shepherd’

Hey – ‘A Window’ means ‘reveal or behold’

tefillah – covenant of the mouth prods to behold

The English word ‘prayer’  actually comes from the Latin word precari which means ‘to beg’.

There are several parts and ‘terms’ to Jewish prayer.


The amidah (from Abraham’s prayer) acknowledges that we are standing in the presence of the Creator of the universe with reverence and fear.


The  sichah (from Isaac’s prayer)  brings us into a personal, intimate and quiet  conversation with the holy One, the loving and compassionate Father and Friend.  This part of prayer joins man with his Creator.


The pegiah (from Jacob’s prayer) confronts God and appeals to his mercy and compassion toward our broken and fallen state.


The chinam (from Moshe’s prayer) reminds us that prayer is a generous gift and anything we receive from the Father is freely given to us, we don’t deserve it.

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