“When thou said, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, L-rd, will I seek.”
— Psalm27: 8
“Would G-d that all the L-rd’s people were prophets, and that the L-rd would put his spirit upon them.”
— Numbers 11:29
The Mishkan / Tabernacle was called the tent of meeting, because there the two-way communication between Moses, the representative of the congregation of Israel and G-d’s Guiding Presence officially took place, “And there I will meet with you and I will speak with you from above the ark covering from between the two cheruvim.” (Ex. 25:22). The communication could take place elsewhere also, wherever the Ruach haKodesh / G-d’s holy Spirit inspired those on whom it rested. As in the examples of Eldad and Bedad, it was Moses’ wish that all of G-d’s people would be lead by the Ruach haKodesh, (Num. 11:25-29). G-d spoke with Moses in a unique “face to face” manner. We do not know what that exactly was; we know it was a unique communication “face to face,” (Ex. 33:11, Num. 12:8, Deut. 34:10). We know that it was in a conversation format, as between two individuals. From this example we know that prayer can be and often should be conducted as a conversation, speaking, listening and responding, in order to seek intimate communing with G-d. It is a mode of praying where we are actively “seeking G-d’s face.” This kind of prayer is a meditative exchange on words we say and words we receive, listening to “the still small voice," (I Kings 19:12), and most importantly responding as one is moved by the evoked feelings in one’s heart. In a way, every prayer should be an attempt to “seek G-d’s face” for this purpose, (Psalm 27:7). One of the main purposes of Yached Levavenu is to foster the seeking of the G-d of Israel that He may communicate with us. Yached Levavenu hopes and prays for the proliferation of this type of “face to face” communication to develop in the Mishkan of prayers between the faithful remnant of Israel and the G-d of Israel.
Better than we possibly can, G-d knows fully what we are and how our conscious and subconscious processes operate.
“O L-rd thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my sitting down and my rising up, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou hast measured my going and my lying down, and thou art acquainted with all my ways. For no word is yet on my tongue and lo, O L-rd, thou knowest it all.”
G-d can tell us the very words that exactly express our soul’s intent and message before we even try to formulate our utterances. The only way David could have known that was to have experienced G-d reflecting and communicating His desires to David, letting David know that He was tracking with him during his prayers. To this end in the Morning Service Orthodox Jews pray, “O Lord save us; may the King answer us before we call.” David expected to hear from G-d the very day he made a request, often in the morning, after his initial prayers of the day, (Psalm 143:8). G-d may answer us at any time, but often his answers come during morning prayers, when we are charged up with joyous feelings that motivate us to give thanks to G-d for having awakened us for another day of life and its blessings. Later in the morning prayers we pray, “From your presence dismiss us not empty handed.” Sometimes God may tell us at the end of our prayer, the summary of our prayer with a Biblical reference, which better expresses with a few words in a totally encompassing way what we have said with many words.
G-d communicates with us in ways that we are most apt to hear and need to hear. These words can come from any Biblical reference. An example of this type of Divine communication is recorded about the sages Rabbi Abbaya and Rabbi Rava, who received Biblical verses as answers to their prayers. This demonstrates the principle that all answers form God must be consistent with His written Word. Often these references come from the Psalms, which encompass the depth and breadth of human experience. Psalm 119 with sections assigned to the Hebrew alphabet is especially laid out to be answers to human prayers. As with the Biblical patriarchs, G-d sometimes communicates in dreams, where God bypasses the filtering of our conscious minds (II Chron. 7:12). His answers may come in words that strike us as we study his Word, in what we may overhear in a conversation, in words, thoughts or sudden realizations and enlightenments that come into our minds as we meditate on His Word. These types of answers, as well as page numbers in prayer books, the Tanach and Bible-related books are also possible pointers to answers. All these forms are genuine if they have one thing in common: being consistent with His written revelation the Tanach, i.e. Torah, the Prophets and the Writings, (Isa. 8:20). G-d’s answers are always on target, exact and totally consistent with his written Word. When God answers our prayers concerning weighty matters, it is always at least two times, from different sources that we will hear the answer. This is consistent with the Torah, where in the mouth of two or three witnesses was a life and death matter decided in ancient Israel. In the Tanach we often find important matters mentioned twice. The principle of receiving the same information from at least two different sources to verify a truth, has not changed. If we doubt, or do not want to heed the answer, He often answers the third time. Answers for pleas concerning repentance, spiritual dilemmas and directions tend to be swiftly answered, for it is the most important agenda we need to comply with. This is because the whole Tanach’s directive can be summed up in Psalm 90:3: “Thou turnest man to destruction and sayest return / repent ye children of men/Adam.”
Through these types of communication a special closeness is available to all seekers of the G-d of Israel now and more is on the horizon. They are not in the realm of impossibility for us now. Through communion / yechidut a special closeness is especially bound to be achieved now when the gates of repentance are being opened to the House of Joseph:
“Then shall you call upon me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will hearken to you. And you shall seek me and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. And I will allow myself to be found by you, says the L-rd: and I will restore you from captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations…”
G-d promises that during the Great Shabbat, the Messianic Age to come, before we even speak, he will answer. This closeness is absolutely and especially necessary for those who wish to serve in the manner of modern day lechem panim. We can have that close relationship with G-d in the-here-and-now if we ask for it.
"And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."
We are commanded to look to our father Abraham, our mother Sarah and to the Rock (G-d) whence we were hewn, (Isa.51:12). At the time of Abraham’s ultimate test, (the Akedah / binding of Isaac), G-d our Eternal Rock, has provided for Abraham the sacrifice, the ram caught in a bush, (Gen. 22:13). Abraham brought Isaac, his own commanded sacrifice, and G-d has also prepared his own sacrifice for Abraham to use. Our prayers are to be like that. We are not only to use our own words to express concepts written in the prophecies that G-d taught us from his Word, but also are to listen to G-d’s reciprocation and use words received on the spot as we pray. This principle is reinforced in the Talmud: “And the sons of Aaron shall place fire on the altar, (Lev. 1:7). This verse shows that even though fire would descend from heaven, it is still a mitzvah to bring ordinary fire, (Bavli, Tractate Yoma, 21b). It shows us that the essence of “face to face prayer” consists of talking, listening and responding.
The words we say, and the words we receive, through study or prayer, are to be pondered, contemplated and turned over in one’s mind. They are to be concentrated on in the context we give them and receive them. Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher, (c.1340?, Tur, Orach Chaim 98), gives us a description of the “meditative focusing” we ought to do on the words we use in our conversation with G-d:
“.. you should concentrate on the words that issue from your mouth and should think about G-d’s presence being there… Pay attention and banish any distracting thoughts, so that your mind shall be solely on prayer… This was the practice of the pious and of the enthusiastic; they would linger and concentrate on their prayer until they transcended their physical awareness, and they would be overwhelmed by a spirit of lucidity, and they would come close to prophecy….” This type of “contemplation / hitbonenut” during the study of G-d’s Word, before and during prayer, gives us the intellectual knowledge and the deep feelings-mediated understanding through which we fuse with G-d’s revelation. During such times we achieve that yechidut / spiritual communion that we need to prepare us for further inspiration and guidance by G-d’s holy Spirit.
G-d’s Torah teaches us that the offerings were to follow specific G-d-given patterns. In the same vein, G-d as our teacher provides and puts the very words, i.e. the calves for sacrifices we are to use in our minds and in our mouths. We are to listen to and use those words for they have healing powers in our subconscious minds, to turn us back to the G-d of Israel. He tells us: “I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace be unto him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the L-rd, and I will heal him,” (Isa.57:19). When G-d gives us the words to use with which to talk to Him, it is a healing experience. It heals us where we as a lot, most need it — to heal us from our 2700-year-old estrangement from Him. He is calling all Israel to healing; those who are far from Him and those who think they are near. Ask Him to answer you concerning personal repentance and spiritual direction. Be willing to hear and heed God's rebuke. Ask Him to show you where and of what you need to repent. He will answer you swiftly.
A caveat and an important pointer:
This article is not a primer on a flippant approach to prayer and expecting G-d to answer us about trivial, insignificant and mundane matters on which we are to exercise our human reasoning and efforts. Neither is it advocating a superstitious “magical” disposition and looking for omens and signs. Rather, it advocates soul-felt persistence in prayer about weighty matters and restoration to communication with G-d for the sake of guidance for the returning / repentance of the Ten Tribes and all Israel.
This article is not a primer on how to pray in general. There are many good books on prayer and the Siddur/ prayer book of Yehudah. Rather it points out the kind of prayer the returning Israelites need to engage in order to receive instruction and directions on how to get out of the ingrained patterns of our corporate and individual sins and mindsets. To this effect, Yached Levavenu strongly urges readers to pray, i.e. talk to G-d, not just at regular times, but most importantly whenever they are prompted by feelings that arise from what they read, study, meditate / contemplate on, and when they are “emotionally moved and prompted by inner urges of one’s spirit.” These "feelings" are indicators of relationship that are being achieved or are already there. These times of emotional movement in one’s inner being are the best times to communicate with G-d, since then we experience the promptings of our subconscious minds, G-d’s Inspiration and the outpourings of our responsive souls.
“Righteousness is thine O L-rd and confusion is ours. How can we complain? What can we say? What can we urge? How can we justify ourselves? Let us search and examine our ways and return to thee, for thy right hand is stretched out to receive those who repent.”
— Tachanun Prayer
“We know not what to do, but our eyes are upon thee.”
— II Chron. 20:12
Suggestions for what to do: