Prayer is key to drawing closer to God

BY RABBI BRIGITTE ROSENBERG

The Kotzker Rebbe taught, “God is everywhere — everywhere you let Him in.”

How many of us actually pay attention to this notion on a daily basis? Do we think about God? Do we communicate with God? Do we seek to bring God into our lives?

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This week’s parashah, Vayikra, which opens the book of Leviticus, introduces us to the sacrificial cult of our tradition. Upon initial read many find the descriptions of the sacrifices “gross” and unappetizing, while others worry about the cruelty inflicted upon the animals. However, regardless of what we think of sacrifice, the purpose of it was to bring oneself closer to God. In ancient times when our ancestors wanted to appease, thank, petition, or apologize to God, they would offer an animal or food sacrifice of their choicest animals or crops to God. In this way, they believed, God would draw near to them and they to God. It is no coincidence then that many of these sacrifices were called Korbanot. The root of which is karov — “to bring or draw closer.”

So, today, without sacrifice how is it that we bring ourselves closer to God?

Prayer is how each one of us can connect or bring ourselves closer to God. And if we remember that God is everywhere, this helps us realize that prayer does not require us to be standing in a sanctuary, rather we can pray in a field, in our beds, in our hearts. Yet, how many of us take the time to pray, even for a moment? Prayer allows us the opportunity to share our joys and triumphs with God. Prayer can calm and comfort us, as we ask God to help us in times of need. Prayer can simply offer us a moment of peace, or even a moment of quiet. It is moments of prayer that help us draw closer to God, to recognize that God is present in the moment and in our lives. Therefore, our prayer is not unlike that of our ancestors. For in fact, we bring an offering to God, for when we pray, we offer ourselves, and the gifts of our hearts. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, O God.

Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg of United Hebrew Congregation prepared this week’s Torah Portion.

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