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Why is it necessary to pray three times a day?

by Rabbi Shalom Hazan

  

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Prayer in its essential form is about pouring your heart out to G-d whenever there is a desire/need. However, our Patriarchs highlighted three times of the day conducive for prayer, and our Sages instituted the three daily prayers.

The Talmud1 highlights Torah verses to teach us that Abraham instituted the morning (as a time for) prayer, Isaac instituted the afternoon (as a time for) prayer, and Jacob instituted the night (as a time for) prayer.

After the destruction of the Holy Temple and the subsequent inability to bring the daily sacrifices, our sages formulated a prayer to be said in the morning in place of the morning sacrifice, a prayer in the afternoon in place of the afternoon sacrifice, and a prayer at night corresponding to the meat of the sacrifices that were consumed in the altar's fire all night.2

Praying three times a day represents praising and thanking G-d at varied times in our lives. Praying in the morning -- Shacharit -- represents praising G-d when life is fresh and pleasant. Praying Minchah in the afternoon, as the sun begins to set, represents praising G-d in the face of uncertainty. An additional important point in the Minchah prayer, is the fact that it takes place (usually) in middle of the work day. Many times, we need to "stop everything" and completely change course to pray. This is a great merit that we have specifically in the Minchah prayer). Praying Maariv at night symbolizes praising G-d and realizing His greatness even in "dark" times when things do not seem right.

Footnotes

  • 1. Talmud tractate Brachot 26b
  • 2. Maimonidies laws of Prayer 1:5-6

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COMMENTS

Prayer

Posted by: Ralph G., Phila., PA on Jan 27, 2005

Thank you for the insight. Where can I get a prayer book. Can I pray this way not being Jewish (yet)?

Editor's Comment

Go to www.kehotonline.com.

Yes. Non-Jews are encouraged to pray, too.


Daily life

Posted by: Vadim, Sydney, NSW, Australia on Jan 23, 2006

Trying to learn slowly. Lots of thoughts mainly unanswered. Biggest thought and question for many months now was why does such a super being superior to us beyond our understanding like G-d need us to constantly pray to him. 3am in the morning cant sleep turn on the computer - go to ask moses.com with the same thought go straight to daily life subject unaware of why i picked this catagory. Get the most awesome answer straight on the first section.

Quote "B. G-d is obviously not some despot who needs to hear little minions sing His praises daily. Tefillah is for us, not Him. Judaism addresses every little corner of life, and tefillah is Judaism's method of addressing the corner of self-improvement."

Devine providence in it's purest form !

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Shacharit
Morning prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
Abraham
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Maariv
Evening prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
Jacob
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
Isaac
Second of the three Jewish Patriarchs, son of Abraham and Sarah. Lived in Canaan (Israel); b. 1712 BCE, d. 1532 BCE.
Minchah
Afternoon prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
G-d
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.