Dear Aish Family,
As we enter the holiday season we have been busy preparing in Jerusalem. It is so powerful to be able to pray at the place where prayer was ‘invented.’ We know that our patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah all prayed in Jerusalem. Many of the original progeny of Judaism did not grow up with the concept of prayer. They found their way to it through the logic of their hearts. Every young child knows that when they need something they ask a parent. So too, they intuited that we must beseech the Almighty for our needs.
For many years I have been praying with our students on Yom Kippur. This is one of the holiest days of the year and objectively important on the road to prayer. Our lives and destinies are in the hands of the Almighty. We must pour our hearts out fully and completely. Unfortunately for so many of us, it is hard to achieve a high spiritual level on this day. We pray the whole year and in many cases our prayer becomes monotonous. It is difficult to apply the proper focus that the day merits.
I personally find that when I pray at the Aish Yeshiva and inevitably come across a young man or woman who is pouring out their heart for the first time, I am elevated and encouraged. They have a fresh and proper perspective on beseeching the Almighty for mercy. Even though I have been an active Rabbi for many years, I am inspired by those around me who are truly connecting to prayer for the first time.
During these next few weeks of Jewish holidays it is so important to focus on prayer. To really love someone, one must tell them how beautiful they are and how much we love them in every way. It is the same with the Almighty. We must train ourselves to articulate the love between the Jewish people and the Almighty.
The Aish Yeshiva in Jerusalem generally includes a number of newly connected Jews, and as a result, seeing tattoos in our midst is not unusual. I am reminded of the story I was told of a young man embarrassed to pray at a certain synagogue because of a tattoo that he had. An older man saw this and walked over to speak to the boy. He rolled up his sleeve to show him the tatoo he had received in Auschwitz, courtesy of the Nazis (may their name be erased.) He told the young man: “Let us pray to the Almighty together with our ‘holy ink.’”
On Yom Kippur this coming week let us come together to laugh and cry with each other. Let us focus on telling the Almighty how much we love Him. Let us feel His extraordinary love for us. We must pour out our hearts and ask him to strengthen all of our efforts to serve him. Tell him about our plans to inspire his children through AishVision2030. Show Him that although we may be selfish from time to time, we are focused on becoming selfless human beings. Let’s all fill our prayer with the love in our hearts and a serenity of our soul.