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Entering Prayer

The blessing after Shema leads us into Shemoneh Esrei. Mentioning the miracles of the Exodus from Egypt puts us in the proper frame of mind for this highest level of prayer. It reminds us that just as Hashem miraculously redeemed us from Egypt, so too He can answer our prayers and grant us everything that we ask for in the Shemoneh Esrei.

While the Shema and its blessings are said sitting down, Shemoneh Esrei must be said standing. When should a person get up? The words “Tehillos l’Eil Elyon …” (Praises to the Almighty …) hint to the fact that a person is about to begin Shemoneh Esrei, which starts off by praising Hashem. For this reason many have the custom to stand up before saying them (Maharil cited by Elia Rabba 66,9).

Before speaking to Hashem on Har Sinai, Moshe Rabbeinu passed through three separate barriers: darkness, clouds and fog. During prayer we try recreate Moshe Rabbeinu’s experience as much as possible in order to internalize the reality that we are also speaking directly to Hashem (Kitzur Shelah). Therefore, after a person stands up he should take three steps forward as if he were crossing these three thresholds (Rema 95,1).


Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 


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