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It’s All in the Eyes

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A certain gadol once came to visit the great tzaddik of southern Israel, Rav Abuchatzera, known as the Baba Sali, and asked him the following question: "You are able to perform great wonders that no one else can do. What is your secret?"

The Baba Sali replied that he was completely immersed in Divine service. He never took his mind off Hashem for an instant. This was the source of his supernatural abilities.

The other gadol responded, “I do not believe you are telling me everything. I and other rabbanim do the same thing, yet we were not endowed such gifts. There must be something more.”

After much prodding the Baba Sali admitted, “Look at my eyes. My entire life I have guarded them from seeing things that are impure. This is the true source of my strength.”

The eyes are the lenses of the soul, and every vision makes an imprint on it (Reishis Chachmah, Kedushah 8,16). If we constantly guard our eyes, our minds will be much clearer and focused when we are immersed in prayer. We are instructed how to prepare our eyes, even while praying, so that they will aid us in prayer.

Gazing at the Heavens

Before one starts to pray he should turn his eyes towards the windows (Mishnah Berurah 95,4). Looking towards the vast expanses of the universe and the blue of the sky will remind him “Who created all of this.” If during the course of his prayers his mind wanders, he should look again through the windows and try to regain his concentration (Mishnah Berurah 90,8).

In order to fulfill this directive the halachah stipulates that “There should be windows in the place where a person prays as the verse tells us, ‘The windows in his [Daniel’s] attic faced Yerushalayim’” (Berachos 34b according to Rashi). The practical halachah requires some windows in a beis kenesses to face Yerushalayim (Shulchan Aruch 90,4).

The Zohar writes, “A shul should have windows in order to enable the ascent of everyone’s tefillos. For this reason, it's impossible to pray properly in a shul which does not have windows … Just as the beis kenesses in the heavens has twelve windows, so too the beis hakenesses in this world should have twelve windows” (Zohar, Pekudei 251a). The Shulchan Aruch cites this Zohar as the halachah, and writes that a shul should have twelve windows (Shulchan Aruch 90,4).

Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



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