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To help me with my weakening eyesight I purchased an iPad last week. After having my resident expert set the gadget up with the necessary applications, I began to enjoy this new wonder of our age. One of the applications installed on my iPad is Microsoft Word. I like the keyboard of the iPad as I find it easier to see the letters than on my regular computer keyboard.

So I wrote my usual brilliant op-ed article for this week on my new iPad. Somehow, in spite of all of my efforts and technological genius, this finely crafted essay just simply disappeared. Numerous experts on iPads and their uses attempted to help me find and restore the lost article. But it has all been to no avail.
Somewhere in cyberspace, a great article (about taxation) is floating around, inaccessible to all concerned. I wonder, where is it? Is it still in existence? Or perhaps it has disappeared forever, making no impression, of no value. as though it never was. My frustration at losing an essay that I had worked on for some time was great and I think understandable.
But as I reconciled myself to its loss and steeled myself to the task of writing another essay, my rabbinic bent of mind started to kick in. I, for one, always attempt to see if there is a deeper message hidden in apparently mundane and everyday occurrences. And so I began to ruminate about my essay floating somewhere in the heavens of cyberspace.
I thought to myself that this is perhaps what happens to many of our prayers. I am not certain that all of them reach their intended goal or are even recognized by Heaven. Since we are not always at the top of our game as far as daily prayers are concerned, it can very well be that many of them are just simply floating around in the ether of the universe, of little help or consequence. It could also be this is too pessimistic a viewpoint of the matter. After all, what do I know about Heaven and how it operates.
In Kabbalistic thought, one finds all sorts of references and images of ill formed angels that have been created by improper thoughts, actions and lack of concentration while reciting prayers. Perhaps many of our prayers seemingly go unanswered and somehow get “lost” in transmission because of our lack of concentration when those words of prayer are first uttered.
If this be the case, then there must be an awful lot of clutter in the unseen space before the gates of prayer. The rabbis have taught us that even if we are unsuccessful in entering those gates of prayer with our words, nevertheless our emotions and tears, which come from the heart and not just the eyes, will always arrive and be counted. One of the great liturgical poems creates for us the image of our tears being stored in a heavenly container that is eternal and of constant merit.
Losing our prayers in cyberspace is far more frustrating and sad than losing an article about taxation. Prayer is hard work and the fact that it is a thrice-daily activity makes it susceptible to the dangers of rote and habit. This is so true that in Chasidic and Kabbalistic thought, one of the tasks and abilities of the righteous, holy person, is the ability to somehow gather all of those lost prayers and to raise them, by his power of prayer, to enter the holy gates and become meaningful and effective.
Due to this type of thinking and worldview, prayer in the Chasidic world took on a role equal to and – according to its more radical wing – an even greater one than Torah study. In the famous quip popularized in the Lithuanian yeshiva movement, prayer is when we speak to God and Torah study is when God speaks to us.
Be that as it may, it is obvious that prayer is compared to archery, where the arrow must be well directed in order for it to reach its target. But, even the greatest archer sometimes misses. So too, at times our prayers require a greater sense of concentration than we accord them. Let us hope that, unlike my iPad essay on taxation, our prayers will not be eternally lost and will be able to enter the heavenly gates.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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