Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Chazal considered Bnei Yisrael’s greatest weapon to be its ability to pray. With tefillah we can move mountains and change the world.

Al tiree, tolat Yaakov, Fear not, you worm, Yaakov” (Yeshayahu 41:14). Just as a worm has its power only in its mouth as it bores into the trees, the same is true of Yisrael; through prayer it overcomes all of its enemies.


“Some boast of their chariots, others of the their horses, but we boast of the name of the L-rd our G-d. They will fall and be defeated but we will arise and pray to G-d who will hearken to us when we call to Him” (Tehillim 20:8-10).

But prayer must be sincere and uninterrupted. Even if a king greets you, you should not answer him. Even if a snake winds itself about you, you must not interrupt your prayers. Chazal tell us a story of a pious person who was traveling on the road. When it became dark, he stopped to pray. In the middle of Shemoneh Esrei, an officer approached and greeted him. The pious person didn’t answer him.

The officer waited until he finished his prayers and then said to him, “You fool! Why didn’t you return my greeting? Doesn’t your Torah advise you to guard your life? Were I in the mood, I could have cut off your hands and no one would have known the difference.”

The man answered: “Permit me to explain my actions. If you were standing before a king and your friend came along and greeted you, would you have returned his greeting?”

“No,” replied the officer.

“And if you had responded to his greeting, what would they have done to you?” the pious man asked.

“They would have cut off my head,” answered the officer.

“Therefore, by your answer, can you understand my actions?” replied the pious man. “If you are afraid to respond when you stand before a mere mortal king, who is here today and gone tomorrow, how much more so when I stand before the greatest king of all, G-d, the King of Kings, who lives eternally. Is it not proper that I should not respond to your greeting when I pray?”

The officer was very pleased by this clever answer and he escorted the pious man on the road to protect him from any harm.

We should learn a lesson from this story and never speak or hold any conversations during our prayers.


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