Develop yourself to the best of your ability
Rebbe Nachman once told a well-known rebbe who would pray in his private room adjacent to the synagoge. hearing sounds outside his door and thinking it to be his chassidim trying to catch a glimpse of thier master’s devotions, the rebbe prayed with great fervor and enthusiasm. Later, he discovered that the sounds had been caused by a cat scratching at the doorr. “For nin years he prayde to a cat! G-d save us!” (Aveneha Barzel p.25)
Our prayers to Hashem must be pure and sincere. They need not consist of expensive words or complicated sentences. Pure from the heart in your own language in your own terms. It is good to find a quiet, fixed, place to pray to Hashem. When you are aware that others are listening in, it is harder to be sincere and focused in your prayers. In the above example, this led to overly big words that were meant to appear pious. But sometimes it can be just the opposite.
I have been blessed to have been able to pray at the Kotel several times. Each time, I prepare well. Yet I do not (yet) manage to pray concentrated. Not that I want to use different or better words than usual, but the fact that people can listen in makes me not dare to utter the words the way I would otherwise. What would others think. Would they notice a non-Jewish woman praying Hebrew prayers. Would they notice mistakes, would they find it strange. Thoughts that distract me. How much easier those prayers go my way on my one of my favourite dunes on the coast of Israel. Alone, the beach, the sea, the sky in my direct line of sight, no people….
It should not matter where and when you pray to Hashem. It should not “inflate” you and it should not “shrink” you. When we approach Him, we should approach as we really are, not taking into account our surroundings.
For me, this is a learning process, but there will come a day, Be’Ezrat Hashem, when I will manage to pray to Hashem at the Kotel as I am, regardless of what others think or feel about it.
By Angelique Sijbolts
Soures: Crossing the Narrow Bridge p. 74
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