The Zohar says: שעת צלותא שעת קרבא – the time of Prayer is a time of war. This is oft-quoted in Chabad Chassidus.
Texts aside, why would YOU consider prayer to be a time of war?
We asked this question on Friday Night as homework of sorts, and asked students to share their thoughts at Shabbos Lunch. Here’s what they shared:
One of my army professors says mental preparedness is crucial. In addition to whatever physical training and fitness, war requires heightened mental awareness, increased perception, mental training is a huge part of it. And the same is true of prayer, a lot of is about your state of mind. – Seth B.
Will power is everything in war. You have to push yourself, stretch your natural limits – and all that depends on will power. Same with prayer, you have to really desire it, you have to be invested, it’s all about how much will power you have in it. – Shoshie B.
Prayer is an inner struggle, it’s a battle within yourself. – Jack S.
Faith and trust matter a lot in war. Soldiers have to have faith in their commanding officers, generals have to trust that their soldiers will do what they are told. Same with prayer, we have to trust and have faith that G-d is listening to us. – Jon K.
Going to war is no simple decision. There has to be a real real reason to take such a drastic step. Same with prayer, it is more than a casual matter. We have to be invested, we have to feel for it, want it with heart. – Elaina P.
There’s that saying “there are no atheists in foxholes.” War and prayer are linked. – Zach K.
In war the roles are divided between political and military, soldiers on the ground and strategists in offices – but in prayer it’s really just us, all these roles rolled into one – each of us. – Aliza B.
Soldiers do have to follow orders, but you can’t fight wars only because someone else said so. You have to have your own conviction, you have to believe in it on your own. I see prayer the same way. We can’t just pray because others said so, prayer is best when we really feel for it on our own. – Alex H.
Especially in today’s complex world, there are many factors that come in to play for a war to happen. It’s not one single simple reason. There’s always more to it. Same with our prayers, our daily Amidah has 19 blessings that ask for things as diverse as good health, wisdom, redemption and forgiveness… its more than just one thing. – Mordechai R.
In the biblical war against Amalek, the Torah tells us that as long as Moshe’s hands were up heavenwards, the Jews were victorious, but when Moshe’s hands were down, the Jews began losing. So Aharon and Chur held up Moshe’s hands, they supported his hands. War and prayer are both about morale. If the morale is up, if the spirits are up, both prayer and war will be on the up and up. But if morale is down, both prayer and war will falter. – Johnny W.
It’s possible to battle alone, but most wars are fought in battalions and brigades, soldiers are supported by one another. The same is true with prayer, we can pray alone, but prayer is best with others, that’s why we have synagogues, and the focus on Minyans… – Elaina P. and Jon K.
I find it a struggle and challenge, a mini-battle, to fight off distractions and disturbances to be able to properly pray. – Raizy R.
I can’t think of what prayer has in common with war, but I can see how they are very different. War is only a means to an end, and is never an end in itself. Prayer may be towards an objective, bit there’s also value in prayer in and of itself. – Max C.
Alumnus Matt H. had this famous movie clip that he loved, Al Pacino’s “Inch by Inch” inspirational speech in “Any Given Sunday”. If you substitute “words” for “inches” it can lend new insight to the words of prayer… – Mendel R.