kosher bookworm

Finding great kavanah in ‘Tefillah Revolution’


It can happen to any of us. Everything starts off great. And then we find ourselves thinking about the phone call we need to make, the outfit we want to buy, the vort we’re attending tonight. We all know that sinking feeling that hits us when we take three steps backward at the end of the Shemoneh Esrei without the slightest recollection of what we just said.

In “The Tefillah Revolution,” publiushed in 2003, dynamic educator Chaya Sara Lefkowitz challenges this universal phenomenon by sharing a wealth of deeply felt inspiration in a way that will elevate and transform our prayers.

This book that is guaranteed to serve as an invaluable guide for teachers and students and anyone who wants to strengthen her connection to the Creator. The author’s love of tefillah shines through every page as she demonstrates through stories, parables, and kavanah drills how to uplift our davening...changing it from force of habit to the most treasured moments of our day.

Lefkowitz encourages you to join the revolution and transform the way you daven forever. In the following excerpt the author focuses on the importance of Aleinu LeShabei’ach:

“The first to make this declaration of faith [Aleinu LeShabei’ach] was Yehoshua after taking the Jewish people across the Jordan River into Eretz Yisrael. It is also said during mussaf of Rosh Hashanah and thrice daily after Shemoneh Esrei.

After finishing our prayers and basking in our closeness with Hashem, we are faced with a challenge. How can we now integrate the closeness in our mundane lives? Often, our daily routine involves working alongside non-Jews, dealing with business issues, and doing other activities that, while permissible, feel far away from the loftiness of our morning conversation with Hashem.

Aleinu provides the key and the answer. Our connection to Hashem and our recognition of Him as our King and Ruler must be the same whether standing before Him in prayer or actively engaging in business dealings or daily activiites. Since we want nothing more than to lead our lives according to Hashem’s will and principles of His holy Torah, we ask Hashem to help us remember, throughout our workday, the things that mean the most to us, namely the declaration of G-d’s Kingship and unity. At the same time, we express our hope and confidence that all false beliefs will disappear and the entire world will recognize and accept Hashem as the only Sovereign.

We say Aleinu at the end of each prayer service because it has a profound power to implant faith. Further, it highlights the fact that abstract belief is not sufficient; in order to be a dedicated Jew, one must take the knowledge to heart and develop an emotional commitment to act according to what we know is right.

We realize that our concept of Hashem is different than other nations. Eventually, all humanity will recognize the sovereignty and declare its obedience to His commandments.

A prominent wholesaler would purchase all his merchandise from one factory. He’d place his orders and then pay his bills immediately. His fortune took a turn and he could not longer pay cash after each transaction. He asked for credit terms, based on his always being a good client. 

So too, we place our “orders” with our “supplier,” Hashem. We ask that He forgive us, heal us, sustain us, and more, We realize how deeply indebted we are to Hashem and that we are not deserving of all this. It’s due to his graciousness that he answers us and is kind and helps us.

We thank Hashem for being able to conduct our lives according  to His will. We are happy and grateful that we are privileged with this honor. From the minute we wake up, throughout the day, regardless of what we’re doing, we remember Him and keep connected, and we hope that everyone else in the world will also recognize Him as the gracious King of all kings Who rules the world.

Countless tzaddikim would dance with joy when singing this tefillah, thankful to have the honor of acknowledging Hashem as the King Who reigns over kings and is the cause and effect of every single thing in the world. When we watch gedolim and even simple Yidden perform mitzvos with such hislahavus, devotion and happiness, we can likewise be aroused to feel pride in our place in klal Yisrael.”