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October 24, 2014  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

The hard work of prayer – turning words into deeds


With the conclusion of the High Holy Day Season and the Festive days of Sukkot, a return to normalcy sets in. Normalcy to most of us means – we have reached a spiritual and emotional peak during the Days of Awe; now we may descend to doing, not what we should or promised ourselves we would, but what we feel is reasonable.

For many of us a few days of intensive prayer was our contribution to our moral and spiritual growth.

The Hebrew word for prayer is “avodah.” This is the same word used in modern Hebrew for “Work.” In truth, prayer is a difficult job. But Judaism is not content to “leave it to prayer alone.” No matter how difficult the “work” – with it must come its partner – deeds – and then prayer can prove effective.

Here is a story which is in line with good Jewish tradition and illustrates this message of “Words and Deeds.” A man took his 7 year old son along with him when he went fishing. They put out the fishing line and then returned to the cabin in the woods. One hour later they returned to the river to see if they caught anything. Sure enough there were several fish on the line. “I knew there would be, Daddy,” said the boy. “How did you know?” asked his father. “Because I prayed for it,” replied the boy. They baited the hooks again, returned after supper and the same dialogue ensued when they found fish on the line. “I knew there would be fish because I prayed,” said the boy. Again the line went back into the river. Before bed time, they returned to the river. This time there were no fish on the line. “I knew there would not be any fish,” said the boy. “How did you know that?” asked the father. “Because I did not pray this time,” replied the boy. “And why did you not pray?” inquired the father. “Because,” said the boy, “I remembered we forgot to bait the hooks.”

My best wishes for much success in turning all of our “Words” into “Deeds.”

The Rabbinically Speaking column is provided as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis. Columns are assigned, on a rotating basis by the board.

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