Prayer Skills: The Three Weeks: Finding the Place to Pray
“Know that God has set apart to Himself the devoted one; God will hear when I call to Him (Psalms 4:4).” The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Israel: “I have said to you, when you pray, pray in the synagogue in your city. If you cannot pray in the synagogue, pray in your field. If you cannot pray in your field, pray in your house. And if you cannot pray in your house, prey on your bed. And if you cannot pray on your bed, reflect in your heart (Midrash Tehillim 4:9).”
During the Three Weeks we are reminded that we no longer have a Temple in which to pray. So, we turned to the synagogue to pray. However, our long exile has reminded us that we do not always have a synagogue in which to pray, so we turn to pray in the field. For most of the diaspora we were not safe even in the field, so we turned to our homes in which to pray. Even our homes were not safe, even our beds.
“Reflect in your heart,” for that is the one place where we can always pray in safety. “May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, God, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalms 108:7).” Rav Kook explains that there are times when we cannot even find “the expressions of my mouth,” and must rely on, “the thoughts of my heart.” (Olat Ra’ayah)
The Three Weeks is a time when we must focus on, “Reflect in your heart,” and, “the thoughts of my heart.” It is the time when we must recall that no matter how unsafe we may be, or how distant we are from the most powerful place of prayer, the Beit Hamikdash, we can always speak to God simply by reflecting in our hearts.