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Lechem Mishneh: Two Forms of Prayer

There are two obligations of prayer: The first is the basic obligation of “working the land,” to acknowledge God’s continued role in creation. We fulfill this obligation with our daily prayers, specifically the Amidah. The second form of prayer is during times of trouble and emergency. Are we obligated to pray an Amidah in such situations?

When the Children of Israel cried out in desperation when they were stuck between the approaching Egyptian armies and the Sea, we are taught, “they grabbed the craft of their fathers.” Rashi continues, “There are three places where the patriarchs prayed and established the three daily prayers.” Rashi does not include other prayers of the patriarchs, only the prayers that they established, meaning the regular prayers, the Amidah.

The Jews at the Sea, in their time of emergency, prayed the established prayer, what for us is the Amidah. Rashi seems to hold as do Tosafot, and unlike the Rambam, that in situations of danger we must pray the Amidah. We pray the same words but with a different emphasis.

The same prayer, the Amidah, serves two functions.

The double portion of Manna demanded both forms of prayer: They needed their daily bread, and because they knew that no Manna would fall on Shabbat, they were in a state of emergency.

The two Challot represent both situations and uses of prayer. The first Challah is an expression of God caring for us on a regular basis, The second Challah is a reminder that when we need “more,” such as when we are in an emergency, we can pray again, even with the same words.

The fact that we know that we can reach out to God in both types of situations is reassurance of His reliability and His Will to respond to our prayers.

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