Prayer in the teachings of Chassidus

1. Prayer atones for neglecting positive commands:

In the times of the Temple the Tamid sacrifice would atone for the nullification of positive commands. Today, prayer has taken its place in this atonement, and thus after one has done Teshuvah, the prayer of each day fully atones. The prayers of the afternoon [i.e. Mincha] atone for the sins done during the day, and the morning prayers [i.e. Shacharis] atone for the sins done the previous night. This is the meaning behind the blessing of “Selach Lanu” recited with Shemoneh Esrei, in which we ask G-d to forgive us, and He certainly does so.

2. Experiencing G-d during Davening:[1]

Prayer is the one hour of the day that G-d has chosen to reveal Himself to the hearts of His subjects, to have them visit his Shechina, and to be accessible to all those that seek Him. It is similar to a king of flesh and blood who comes and reveals himself to his subjects in all his glory and magnificence, in which everyone runs to get a glimpse at him. Thus, certainly during prayer one is to have absolute focus and attentiveness to try to get a glimpse of the King of all Kings which is revealed at that time. This revelation of Hashem occurs in both the upper and lower worlds, and is revealed below at those who desire to glimpse at Him, within the words of prayer. Hashem is revealed during prayer in accordance to his intellect and root of his soul.

3. Prayer is the conduit to help one achieve love and fear of G-d and steer away from sin:[2]

One who is attached to Hashem through love and fear cannot stumble upon even a light sin. This love and fear can only be achieved through learning Torah Lishma, and through first Davening with Dveikus and excitement of the heart. Those people who belittle prayer, cannot achieve Dveikus with Hashem through their Torah learning. Their Torah learning is simply to gain wisdom and knowledge and not to attach to Hashem.

4. Emuna that one’s Tefilos have effect:[3]

The Baal Shem Tov taught that the main aspect of prayer is for one to believe that Hashem fills all the worlds and through his prayer, the Shechina is elevated. He is also to believe that as soon as he verbalizes his request from Hashem, it is fulfilled. Now, although one does not always see this fulfillment, nevertheless it is simply because it is concealed from him. This means, that although the request may not be fulfilled in the specific area that he asked, nonetheless, it is fulfilled somewhere in the world. For example, if one requests from Hashem to remove a certain suffering from him, and he sees that the suffering is continuing, it is perhaps because he needs this suffering to refine him from sin, or perhaps it is for some other good outcome. Nevertheless, his prayer does affect some other area or realm of the world, and there is thus no prayer which is returned empty.

5. How to Daven with emotion:[4]

How does one Daven with emotion? With an arousal of love and fear of G-d? With fervor and concentration? Certainly, this cannot be accomplished if one grabs and quickly wears his Tallis and Tefillin without any prior preparation. One must first learn a chapter of Tanya or a Mamar of Chassidus. The main thing is for one to properly comprehend it and know the conclusions that derive from the teaching. One is to then contemplate this matter prior to wearing the Tallis and Tefillin. After wearing the Tallis and Tefillin one is not to begin Hodu right away, but is to rather contemplate a certain matter. Afterwards one can Daven with even merely Pirush Hamilos, although making sure that he hears each word that he is saying. When one does so, he will find within the words of the Davening similar content to his contemplation.


6. Davening for revelation of G-dliness:[5]

One is to enter prayer with both a broken heart over one’s low spiritual levels, and with a gladness of spirit over his contemplation of G-d’s greatness. As a result of this, during prayer one is to certainly ask and plead from the depths of his heart for there to be revelation of G-dliness in his soul and in the world.

  1. Davening for help in learning Torah and service of Hashem:[6]

During prayer one is to ask and plead before Hashem, from the depths of his heart, for there to be revelation of G-dliness in his soul and in the world. As a result of this request, one is able to force his inclination to learn a lot more Torah than he is accustomed to study. He is to make sure to learn Torah at every possible moment available. One who has the opportunity to learn Torah and does not do so, on him the verse states that “Hikareis Tikareis”, that he is cut off. This means to say, that one who does not use his time for Torah learning, the Elokus leaves [his soul], Heaven Forefend. Although in prayer, we bequest from Hashem that we should be able to draw Elokus below, nevertheless, this matter is dependent on whether one uses his time properly for learning and Tzedaka. One who Davens for it, but does not use his time properly, is considered to have Davened a prayer in vain [i.e. Tefilas Shav]. Hashem punishes such a person by arranging for him to be occupied in worldly matters of nonsense, that disturb him for being able to serve Him. On this the verse in Mishleiy states “Masir Azno Mishmoa Torah Gam Tefilaso Toeiva,” that if one removes his ear from listening to Torah, also his prayer is an abomination, as it causes his request for revelation of G-dliness to go to waste. 

  1. Ascending the worlds during prayer:[7]

In Kabbala, it is explained that the Shacharis prayer is likened to a ladder, in which we climb up the four worlds of Assiya, Yetzira, Beriya, and Atzilus. The summit of Atzilus is reached during Shemoneh Esrei. One is to actively contemplate and try to feel this matter in each stage of Davening.[8] One is to imagine being in the world of Assiya in the start of Davening, in the world of Yetizra in Pesukei Dezimra, in the world of Beriya in Birchas Shema, and in the world of Atzilus in Shemoneh Esrei.

  1. Descending the worlds after Shemoneh Esrei:[9]

Just as we climb the worlds during Davening, so too, we descend from the worlds during Davening, in order to return back to earth. When does this descent take place? Starting from Tachanun. While Shemoneh Esrei is the ascent to Atzilus, Tachanun is the descent from Atzilus. Ashreiy and Uva Letziyon, in which we mention the angels, is similar to Birchas Shema and is the descent from the world of Atzilus into the world of Beriya. Shir Shel Yom is similar to Pesukei Dezimra, in which we sing praise to G-d, and represents the descent from the world of Beriyah to the world of Yetzira. Ein Kelokeinu and Pitum Haketores is similar to Hodu, in which we give thanks to Hashem, and represents the descent from the world of Yetzira to the world of Assiya. Aleinu Leshabeiach represents the landing back on earth.    


  1. The angel Sandalfon:[10]

The angel Sandalfon is higher than all other angels, including Hadarniel. He creates crowns for Hashem from prayers of the Jewish people, and then Hashem accepts their prayers. Moshe went to him with Hadarniel to accept the Torah.


[1] Igeres Hakodesh 24

[2] Keser Shem Tov 238; Likkutei Yekarim 22

[3] Ben Porat Yosef Kuntrus Achron 127a; Keser Shem Tov 80

[4] Toras Shalom Purim p. 7-8

[5] Siddur Im Dach p. 19

[6] Siddur Im Dach p. 19

[7] See Derech Mitzvosecha Shoresh Mitzvas Hatefila 11 [p. 120]; “Ladat Eich Lihitpalel” [Gopin] volume 4 Hakdama

[8] See Keser Shem Tov 216; Likkutei Yekarim 16a

[9] See Derech Mitzvosecha Shoresh Mitzvas Hatefila 11 [p. 120]; “Ladat Eich Lihitpalel” [Gopin] volume 4 Hakdama

[10] Zohar Beshalach 58a; Reishis Chochma Shaar Hayireh 2:3-4

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