This week we read the Torah portion of Eikev. Here we are told the second paragraph of Shema which begins (Devorim 11:13) “And it will be, if you obey My commandments that I command you this day … and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Rashi cites the words “and to serve Him with all of your heart” and explains as follows. “This means with a service of the heart, namely prayer. Prayer is called service, as it says (Daniel 6:17) “your G-d, Whom you serve regularly.”
The Mishnah at the beginning of Chapter Five of Berochos says “One must not stand up to say the Amidah without deep earnestness (literally a heavy head).” The Maggid of Mezritch explains this as follows. One may not pray for his own needs. Rather one must pray on behalf of the Shechinah, the G-dly presence. This is the head of everything within the world.
Thee Maggid’s explanation, however, is not so simple. The Rambam explains that the Halachic definition of prayer (Laws of Prayer, Chapters 2 – 4) is requesting all of one’s needs from Hashem. Only in this manner will he realize that Hashem alone takes care of all of our needs. How can we reconcile the two?
The explanation is that each of us must be totally subservient to Hashem. I am nothing besides for Him. Therefore all of my needs are encapsulated in the needs of the Shechinah. My only prayer is for Hashem, our collective head and being, to be drawn down throughout all worlds.
Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn