Categorized | Jewish Religion

Communing with HaShem

By Rabbi Baruch Lederman

Rabbi Baruch Lederman

SAN DIEGO — When we speak to Hashem, the King of kings, the Judge of judges, we should certainly use  a respectful means of addressing Him. Yet when we say a bracha (Hebrew Blessing), we begin with  the words “Baruch Atah” – “Blessed are You.” We actually address Hashem (G-d) in the second person.

Astounding as it seems, Hashem allows us to address Him in such a personal way.
This demonstrates the great level of closeness with Hashem that we  achieve through tefilah (prayer). The Jewish neshama (soul) thirsts for this intimacy with Hashem as the following true story, heard from Rabbi Herschel  Welcher, illustrates:

Rav Volbe was the mashgiach ruchani (spiritual guide) at the Be’er Yaakov Yeshivah in Israel. In the winter months, he davened mincha (afternoon prayer)at  the Yeshivah. During the summer, rather than daven (pray) mincha at the Yeshivah minyan, he would daven mincha at a different minyan.

The heads of the Yeshivah thought it incongruous the Mashgiach Ruchani of Be’er Yaakov should not daven mincha together with the Yeshivah. He was after  all, an integral part of the institution and as such should be there leading by example during the afternoon services for all to follow. His absence was more  keenly felt, given his immense stature and influence as a mentor and role model forthe talmidim (students) of the Yeshivah.

They asked him to daven mincha with the Yeshivah minyan. He didn’t want to accede to their request.

They asked him why. He did not want to tell them.

This went on for a while. Their insistence grew while he persisted in his position.

Finally the tension grew to a point that Rav Volbe had to overcome his desire to keep his reasons private. In order to avoid an uncomfortable and potentially  ugly situation Rab Volbe was forced to explain himself.

He began by pointing out that in the summertime, the Yeshiva would hold its minyan late in the afternoon. Since mincha is bound only by sunset and sunset  could be after 8PM in the summer, mincha could be conducted as late as 8PM or so, in the summer.

In the winter, mincha could never be that late because sunset in the winter can be earlier than 5PM, and mincha needs to be completed before then.

With a simple sincerity, Rav Volbe explained to them that with shacharis (morning prayer service) being held at 7AM, it would turn out that he would have to go  more than twelve hours from the morning davening to the afternoon davening. “I just cannot bear that. It hurts me to go so long without speaking to Hashem,”  said Rav Volbe.

That is why he sought out an earlier mincha in the summertime. His soul thirsted for that closeness and intimacy with Hashem to the point where he couldn’t wait  for the second prayer of the day to commune with Hashem.


Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego.  He may be contacted at [email protected]

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