PRAYERFUL COUNTDOWN TO MOSHIACH
Rabbi Yeheskel Lebovic
COUNTING THE OMER
During this pandemic, when so many are in terrible need, we daven and say Tehilim for many of our acquaintances. In some ways, Tefila/prayer has some similarities to the mitzvah of counting the Omer (counting on a daily basis each successive day from the 2nd day of Passover till the holiday of Shavuos, at which time we celebrate the Giving of the Torah at Mt Sinai):
(A) In counting the Omer, if one does not understand the words he is saying (he doesn't know that it's about counting days) he has not fulfilled the mitzvah at all. Likewise, in Tefila/prayer: the inner kavana/intent, the knowledge of what we are praying for vs. mere lip service, is absolutely crucial. This can be deduced from the Rambam, beginning of Hilchos Tefila, who states: "It is a positive commandment to daven (pray) everyday, as it is stated : "And you shall serve G-d your G-d" -- through Talmudic tradition we have learned that this 'service' refers to prayer, as it is stated: 'and to serve Him with all your heart' --of which our Sages said: 'which is the service which is 'with the heart? This is prayer'".
The Rambam (ibid:2) also explains that Tefila incorporates three elements:
1) expressing praises of G-d
(2) beseeching G-d for one's daily needs
(3) giving thanks to G-d for the goodness He has already bestowed unto us.
The main of these three elements is that of asking G-d for one's needs. Thus, while it is true that davening (prayer) has to be verbalized with one's lips and it is not sufficient to offer a prayer merely through thought, it is clear that the main aspect of Tefila is the inner kavana (intent) that is enclothed within the words we utter when we approach G-d our King with our requests.
(B) the Omer count of the passing days is geared towards the culmination: the day of Matan Torah (giving of the Torah), at the end of 49 days. In fact, the very reason why we count the Omer nowadays is because our ancestors, as they left Egypt, were counting the days in eager anticipation of Matan Torah/Giving of the Torah of the 6th of Sivan in the year 2,448. Regardless, each individual day a mitzvah is fulfilled completely through the counting of the Omer, even though the ultimate goal has not yet been reached. Likewise in prayer: there is a successive stage, whereby once the individual has presented his requests, he is looking forward to the fulfillment of his requested needs-- for G-d does respond to prayer and grants requests. And, regardless of our anxiously waiting for G-d to hopefully come through with the successive segment to follow Tefila,
the mitzvah of Tefila is nonetheless completely fulfilled regardless of whether and when G-d will eventually grant the requests presented.
THE POWER OF TEFILA AND THE OMER COUNT
There is a third parallel between Tefila and the Omer count, which underscores the far-reaching effect of man's service to G-d: they both elicit very powerful reactions at the time they are pronounced. In the case of Tefila, we activate an actual change in the order and set-up of Creation (see Tanya Kuntres Acharon with English translation p.602) through our heartfelt davening: we ask G-d "let it be Your Will that such and such change occur", “that this and this individual overcome covid19 and become completely healed”, and, as a result, an actual change in the very physicality of the world hopefully comes to pass, bringing relief and salvation where needed. The Omer count likewise elicits and effectuates a tremendous influence in the world and in ourselves, as expressed in the "Ribonmo shel olam" prayer recited each day after the count: "You commanded us ... to count... in order that the souls of your people be cleansed of their defilement ...let it be Your Will that I may be purified and sanctified with supernal holiness and may abundant bounty thereby be bestowed upon all the worlds"!
DAVENING FOR MOSHIACH
In view of the power of Tefila, our emphasis, along with praying for the recovery of our friends, has to be on beseeching G-d to hasten the Geula/Redemption and finally bring the final solution to all of the world’s ills. The built-in power of Tefila has to be used for that purpose also, looking forward in eager anticipation of the great event of Moshiach’s speedy arrival and the universal spiritual upheaval this will generate. May the universal attention drawn by the corona virus be soon transformed in universal attention to be paid to king Moshiach wearing his crown (corona=crown)!
Based on Likutei Sichos vol.22 p. 114-121