Spill Out Your Heart Like Water
[Some quick lessons in meanings. Tefilla means prayer and in Yiddish we say Davening for praying. King David said: Shifchi Kamayim Leebaych Nochach Pnay Hashem – -Spill out your heart like water facing G-d.]
New Orleans taught us a lesson. Dam water up and it might stay within, stopped back. However, as the water becomes agitated, as it becomes pressurized, as it grows in quantity, dams break down and the water flows, washing all away. Shifchi Kamayim – when the pain grows beyond our emotional dams, there is a breaking down, a dissolving into tears, when prayers [Tefillos] finally pour out of us like the storm-churned waters.
Why water? Why should prayer be like water? Dovid HaMelech said, “Va’ani Tefillosi” I become my prayer. What is that supposed to mean? Praying is not just an outlet of pain, it is not just a moment to ask for something for ourselves, prayer ought to change us. We need to become our Tefillah, become transformed by it. And that is why prayer is like water -water can etch and erode, can change the contours of land, can break down the strongest rocks and, so, if we allow, can our prayers reshape us. Davening, when we tune into it fully, should be changing our natures.
In Jewish thought and law, prayer must consist of three things to fulfill man’s obligation of prayer. You must utter a praise of G-d, request something of Him, and thank Him for anything you can think of. This is how Tefilla can transform you and work: you realize the Greatness of G-d and the smallness of you, amazed that He cares about tiny you, a speck in the great sea of humanity; you realize that you are nothing and can get nothing without Him and therefore beg Him for what you need; and then you realize how much He has given already, how, despite not deserving it, He gives to us constantly. Prayer transforms us because as we really cry out, we realize we are Nochach Pnay Hashem, we stand in front of G-d, vulnerable, needy, but allowed to ask for help.