Posts Tagged ‘chinam’

Prayer – Hebrew: Tefillah

The most important Jewish tefillah is the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4-6. Tefillah is found 67 times in the Hebrew Scriptures.

תפלה

Tefillah in Hebrew means  ‘prayer from the heart.’ 

The root of tefillah is palal and has its foundation in 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 whose marriage had brought a plague upon the Israelites.  This suggests that tefillah is the ‘judging of oneself before a holy God’ through deep self-examination to determine whether they have lived up to His potential in their lives.  

Hebrew Word Pictures

Tav is a picture of Crossed Sticks and means ‘sign or covenant.’

Peh is a picture of a Mouth and means ‘source or speak.’

Lamed is a picture of a Shepherd’s Staff and means ‘prod or urge forward’ or ‘leader like a shepherd.’

Hey is a picture of a Window and means ‘reveal or behold.’

tefillah – sign of urging forward to speak and reveal

There are several parts to Jewish prayers that have their foundation in the patriarchs, Avraham, Yitz’ak (Isaac), Ya’akov (Jacob) and Moshe. They include intercession as well as supplication.

Amidah

The amidah, known as ‘The Standing Prayer’ acknowledges that we are standing in the presence of the Creator of the Universe with reverence and fear. This prayer has its foundation in Avraham who was willing to stand before God discussing and questioning His plan for Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Avraham approached and said, “Will you actually sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23)

Sichah

The  sichah brings us into a personal, intimate and quiet  conversation with the holy One, the loving and compassionate Father and Friend.  This prayer joins man with his Creator. This prayer has its foundation in the prayer of Yitz’ak for his wife’s barrenness.

“Yitz’chak prayed to Adonai on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. Adonai heeded his prayer, and Rivkah became pregnant” (Genesis 25:21).

Pegiah

The pegiah confronts God and appeals to his mercy and compassion toward our broken and fallen state. This prayer has its foundation in Ya’akov’s prayer in Genesis 32. He was afraid to meet his brother, Esau, and he prays to God.

“Then Ya‘akov said, “God of my father Avraham and God of my father Yitz’chak, Adonai, who told me, ‘Return to your country and your kinsmen, and I will do you good’:  I’m not worthy of all the love and faithfulness you have shown your servant, since I crossed the Yarden with only my staff. But now I have become two camps. Please! Rescue me from my brother ‘Esav! I’m afraid of him, afraid he’ll come and attack me, without regard for mothers or children. You said, ‘I will certainly do you good and make your descendants as numerous as the grains of sand by the sea, which are so many they can’t be counted‘” (Genesis 32:9-12).

Chinam

The chinam, meaning ‘free’ 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. The foundation of this prayer comes from Moshe praying to God to enter the Promised Land. According to the numerical value of the Hebrew word used for the title of the Torah portion, Va’Eschanan, it has been suggested he pleaded 515 times. Even though Moshe was the most humble and righteous man on earth at the time, his request was not granted.

““Then I pleaded with Adonai …” (Deuteronomy 3:23) .

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