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EXODUS 21:1 – PRAYER AND JUSTICE: AND THESE ARE THE LAWS

 אֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם

“And these are the laws that you should

set before them.”

And these are the laws

The connection between Parashat Mishpatim and the passage about the altar carries a profound lesson, as explained by Rashi. It teaches that the judges, represented by the Sanhedrin, must sit next to the altar in the temple. The altar, where sacrifices are offered, symbolizes prayer. However, prayer cannot be perfect without truth. The Sanhedrin, as judges delivering honest judgments, must therefore sit next to the altar to purify prayer.

In our spiritual journey, we are the judges of our own words. When we pray to G-d, our words must be sincere, truthful, and spoken with full attention. Unlike Jews, Noahides do not have fixed prayers, which can be seen as a significant advantage. Using our own words sometimes makes it easier to pray with more sincerity, truth, and intensity, although this may not be true for everyone.

Personally, I find great benefit in using fixed prayers. They provide structure, and the words of great sages often carry a depth that my own words often lack. Yet, I have also observed that reciting fixed prayers can lead to inattentiveness. Recently, I experimented, after reading one or more pages, with randomly selecting one word from different pages of these prayers. Ultimately, I bring these seemingly unrelated words together into a short and powerful prayer. This process has been a beautiful revelation for me, where seemingly disjointed words unite into meaningful expressions of devotion.


By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources:

Inspired by Likutey Halakhot VII, p. 3a – Rebbe Nachmans Torah.

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