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Amidah: “My Master, Open My Lips!”

A piece of paper fell from a book and I found the following note from my Avodas Hashem (Service of God) Notebooks: Living with someone who absolutely refuses to speak Lishon Harah is a powerful experience of the preciousness of words and translates itself in my prayers. Taking the time before Shemonah Esrei to reflect on the power of words, what they have done to my life when spoken by others, or when spoken by me, has put me in awe of what I will be doing when I pray.

Therefore, when I say, “My Master, open my lips!” It is an overwhelming experience. One begins to truly tremble before speaking to God, especially when one acknowledges the power and reality of one’s words.

How can one speak without God’s help? How can one expect God’s help if one is not an appropriate vessel, especially if our responsibility is, in the words of the midrash (Genesis Rabbah 19:13), “The main dwelling of the Divine Presence is in the Lower Worlds.”

I originally used that midrash in the blessing of Kedusha, but recently realized that it must come before I begin my Shemonah Esrei. Where?

I decided to use the Bach, Tur, Orach Chaim 47, on, “And you shall love,” of the Shema, to focus on being able to use the Torah as a way to experience God’s love, to express my love, and my commitment to assiduously work at my Torah study. (Tanchumah Noach #3, & Alei Shor, Volume 2, Page 94) nothing will happen in our prayers, or even can happen without a high level of commitment to learn and to what we have learned.

The pre-prayer learning has taken on added importance. Different types of learning demand different types of preparation. (From The Service of God Notebooks, April 1, 1996)

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