Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the "tent of meeting." Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. . . . The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.—Exodus 33:7, 11
Prayer in Judaism is defined as “the work of the heart,” which profoundly changes the nature of prayer from one of entreating God to an act that transforms who we are – not what God does. Our devotions throughout this month are focused on different facets of prayer and what lessons we can learn about the power of our prayers. Allow us to take your prayers to the holiest site in all Judaism, the Western Wall. To submit a prayer request to be taken to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, please go here.
If you have ever been privileged to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem — or if you have seen photos from that holy site — you will have noticed hundreds of men standing near the wall, praying with shawls draped over their heads.
This head covering, known as the talith, is a prayer shawl. Observant Jews wear the prayer shawl daily at morning prayer services in obedience to God’s command in Numbers 15:37–39. Here, God instructed the people of Israel to attach blue tassels on the corners of their garments as a physical reminder to remember His commandments. That garment became the prayer shawl. Even today, Jews wrap ourselves in the prayer shawl to symbolize that our entire being is devoted to fulfilling and following God’s Word.
The word itself, tallit comes from two Hebrew words: tal, meaning “tent,” and itt, meaning “little” — literally, “little tent.” And interestingly enough, this is exactly how Moses approached God while the people were encamped at the foot of Mt. Sinai. In Exodus 33, we discover how Moses set up a tent outside the camp where he would go to meet with God. As he went out, the people would all stand outside of their tents, watching, worshiping, and waiting to hear what God spoke to Moses. And the most amazing part of all is recorded in verse 11, for inside that tent, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”
Later, that small “tent of meeting” was transformed into the large movable tent of worship, the Tabernacle, where God’s presence rested while the people journeyed to the Promised Land. Since there were so many people in the camp, not everyone could fit into the Tabernacle to meet with God. So the prayer shawl became their personal prayer closet. Each man would pull the shawl up over his head, forming a tent, where he could worship God, privately and intimately.
Where do you meet with God to talk? Maybe you have a special room in your home or a special chair where you sit. Maybe you talk best with God while enjoying the outdoors. Or maybe you are so busy that your prayers are uttered while driving to work, or commuting on the bus.
The wonderful news for Jews and Christians alike is that wherever we are, in whatever situation, we can envision being inside a “little tent” and meet with God in prayer, just as Moses did. You can be sure He will be there.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President