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So What-Prayer Skills-Vayechi-Rav Hirsch

“And Israel said to Joseph, ‘I had no longer thought “lo fillalti, it possible to see your face, and behold, the Lord has allowed me to even see your children (Genesis 48:11).” Fillalti, as in Falal, related to Balal, to bring some extraneous matter into material, and so integrate it that the whole becomes one single mass, not just a mixture, but something new.


That which is Ballal concretely, is Fallel mentally, to bring a spiritual element, a thought, a fact, a principle, in a sphere of heterogeneous thoughts or conditions, and by being penetrated by this element, to make it unified and homogeneous.

Hitpallel, as in Tefillah, or Prayer, is to penetrate oneself with Godly thoughts. Jewish prayer is not from within outwards, but from without inwards.

Were there only one form of praying, from within outwards, pouring out thoughts or supplications which are already present within oneself, then fixed “prescribed” prayers, at a fixed time to be prayed by an unlimited number of people, would be pure folly. For it would assume that, at the word of a command, at some fixed moment, any number of people would have the same thoughts and feelings and have the urge to put them into words.

Not so, Hitpallel means to penetrate oneself, ever afresh again, with eternal, essential lasting Truths and facts, because otherwise they become weaker and weaker, fade away from one’s consciousness, may even already have disappeared.

Here, “I had no longer thought it possible to see your face,” means, “The thought of seeing you again seemed so distant from being realized, that I could not allow it entry into my mind. (Rabbi Samson R. Hirsch)

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