Vayikra: How Many Times Could You Ask?

March 10, 2021

During the central prayer in Jewish tradition, the Amidah, we ask G-d for health, wealth and happiness. But why is it recited three times a day? Can't I suffice with once a day? And what if I lack nothing--What am I praying for?

This week’s lesson is dedicated in loving memory of Rabbi Mordechai Gurary, Rov of Chevras Shas – Beis Mordechai, Crown Heights, NY. Yartzeit 3 Nissan, 5780.

By his family.

A. The Sacrifices: An Overview

In the first section, we present an overview of the various types of sacrifices in the Temple. There was the Korban Olah, the Burnt Offering (source 1), and its most common form was the Korban Tamid which was offered each morning and evening (source 2). There was also a Peace Offering (source 3) and a Sin Offering (source 4).

B. The Sacrifices of Our Day

In our day, we don’t have a Temple or sacrifices. How do we thank G-d or atone for our sins? Each sacrifice has a counterpart in Jewish ritual. Thanksgiving feasts represent the Peace Offering (source 5) and charity represents the Sin Offering (source 6). Likewise, the Burnt Offering is represented by daily prayer (source 7). However, there seems to be a disconnect: prayer is about making requests for our own life, while the Burnt Offering was a sacrifice that was burned entirely on the altar. 

The Rebbe’s talk dwells on the true meaning of prayer, and thereby answers the question. Prayer is actually about becoming closer to G-d. It’s not about what we can get out of our relationship with G-d—even if we do get quite a lot; prayer is really about connection. 

In Source 8, Maimonides expresses this very point in a succinct way—truly righteous people serve G-d for the sake of cleaving to him, not for any side benefit. 

C. In Darkness and in Light

In the final segment of the Sicha, the Rebbe explains the connection further. Just as the Tamid was offered in the morning and in the evening, so too, our altruistic connection to G-d cannot be only in the “morning,” when times are good. Even in the “evening,” when life is hard, we must still seek that connection. 

In closing, a story from Reb Shmuel Munkes drives the point home. 




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