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The Pauper's Prayer

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


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King David writes (Psalms 102:1), “A prayer of the poor man when he enwraps himself and pours out his words before the L-rd.” The holy Baal Shem Tov interpreted this verse in Chassidic style—and adds a wonderful new depth to the already profound world of prayer.

Different people approach prayer with different attitudes. We all have so many pressing needs and desires that we approach G-d with a long laundry list of demands. The pauper, however, the truly humble person who feels that he has nothing, has only one request: his prayer is that he have the honor and pleasure of “pouring out his words before his Maker.” He realizes that there is no greater privilege than having the opportunity to unburden himself thrice daily before the King of kings. G-d is our father and we are His beloved children. How lucky we are that our Heavenly Father has an open-door policy towards his – often undeserving – children!

The pauper has only one request: his prayer is that he have the honor and pleasure of “pouring out his words before his Maker.”
All too often our prayers are self-centered. While addressing our needs is a vital and fundamental part of prayer, we must never lose sight of the most remarkable aspect of prayer—it is a moment of transcendence; a moment when we have the undivided attention of the Master of the Universe. What a privilege!


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Mitzvot » Prayer » About

(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), Polish mystic and founder of the Chassidic movement.
King of Israel who succeeded Saul, becoming king of Israel in 876 BCE. Originally a shepherd, he became popular after he killed the Philistine strongman, Goliath. He is the progenitor of the Davidic royal dynasty -- which will return to the throne with the arrival of King Messiah.
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.