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Chanah’s Prayer

Chanah’s Prayer

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Some people see the human being as a lonely creature in an indifferent, and even hostile, universe. They need to look deeper, for the two are essentially one: The soul of man is G‑dly, and the soul of the universe is G‑d. Only in their outward expression does a conflict appear—or even that which may resemble indifference. But within is a love affair, an eternal, inseparable embrace. It is a drama King Solomon entitled “The Song of Songs,” for it is what lies at the core of every song, every human expression and all the cosmos: the longing to reunite, to be one, to create a harmony in the outer world that matches the perfect union that lies beneath.

This, too, is the work of prayer: We have our concerns. G‑d seems so distant from them. There is a vast chasm between our world and His. But then He says, “Speak to me about what bothers you. Tell me with all your heart what you desire, and I will listen. For what is important to you is important to me. Speak to me. I wish to dwell within your world.”

The chasm merges and seals. Outer and inner, higher and lower, spiritual and physical, holy and mundane, heaven and earth, kiss and become one.


There is a condition, however, to this healing of lovers’ hearts: that first we must find the inner sanctity that lies behind our own desires and strife. For there is nothing of this world that does not contain a divine spark, no movement of the soul without G‑dly purpose.

Only once we have made this peace within ourselves, between our inner souls and our outer desires, between the sanctuary of our hearts and the words of our lips, only then can we create this cosmic peace between the Essence of All Being and our busy, material world.

This is why prayer is called throughout the Psalms “an outpouring of the soul.” That which lies within pours outward, with no dam to obstruct it, no mud to taint it, nothing to change it along the way. The entire world may be ripping apart at the seams, but the beseecher’s heart and mouth are at peace as one. And then that peace spreads outward into all things.


There are many things we learn from the prayer of Chanah (recounted in I Samuel, chapter 1, and read as the haftorah for the first day of Rosh Hashanah). We learn that our lips must move in prayer, that we must be able to hear our own prayer but no one else should. We learn that prayer is to be said standing. But most important, we learn how to pour out our soul.

Eli thought Chanah was drunk with wine. He was the high priest, the holiest member of the Jewish nation. The divine spirit rested upon him, and he was able to see within the hearts of men and women. Yet, he saw Chana as a drunkard—drunk with a worldly desire, a desire for a child so that she would no longer suffer the shame and ridicule afforded her by Peninah.

But Chanah answered, “No, it is not wine, but my soul, that pours out to G‑d. For my desire for a child has purpose and meaning beyond the pursuits and follies of man. My child, the precious jewel of my heart’s desire—I have already given him to G‑d.”

So it is with our prayers: we pray for material things, but it is not the material, but the spiritual within them, that our soul desires.

The mission of every human being is to bring the many things of this chaotic world into harmony with their inner purpose and the oneness that underlies them. To do this, each of us must have those things related to our mission: our family, our health, our homes, our income. We pray for these things from our innermost heart; our soul pours out for them—because our soul knows that without them, she cannot fulfill her mission in this world.

And G‑d listens. Because He wishes to dwell within our mundane world.

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory; rendered by Tzvi Freeman.
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Julie Durham, UK December 30, 2011

Praying for income I have a mental block on praying for income; it goes against the grain somehow with me, like asking for an extra portion of cake or something and I don't know why. I will try praying for income so that i can use it in good ways. Thankyou. Reply

Anonymous September 28, 2011

R. Sacks commentary September I just learned something really interesting from a Rabbi Sacks commentary on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur that may be useful here.

He defines Prayer as Bakashah, like requests or i guess pouring out.

He defines Tefillah as Attachment to G-d.

i like the distinction. It also would seem that if you are aware of both Tefillah and Bakashah they should be enabled to be concurrent/in harmony.

The entire Sacks commentary is mind food.

Tshuva vs. Charatah, Tefillah vs Bakashah and Tzedakah vs. Chesed. If you can find his commentary it will prepare you for the High Holidays like nothing else can, in 3 simple pathways. Reply

Masego London, United Kingdom September 28, 2011

Chanah`s prayer `We pray for all these things from our innermost heart, because without them our soul can not fulfil her mission in this world'

Beautiful stuff indeed. May G-d bless. Reply

Ruth Housman marshfield hills, ma September 27, 2011

Song of Solomon Today I brought my class some of this beautiful poetry of soul, and we each read a verse going around the circle. We were studying The Secret Garden, a classic children's story, and I brought into this class, the reverberations of Garden for us all, in metaphor, in the vast connects we all have with the original Garden story, Adam and Eve, and snake. You may recall the movie Being There, in which the gardener, Chauncy, presumably retarded, had a surpassing wisdom about all life.

The road does snake and curve. And fork.

Now, this evening I am reading again about this beautiful poetry, that has inspired so much literature filled as it is with longing, for what was, what is, and also how the notion of garden is used in so many ways in all our lives. Sweet Rose of Sharon!

And it's a song about peace. The turtle dove. The hart. What's dear.

So how appropriate to stop and read Solomon's most beautiful words of prayer, of praise, this time of year, of orchards, apples and The Garden. Reply

Michelle December 11, 2010

WOW thanks and G-d bless you for your service and lessons shared with others.

hugs Shel Reply

Mariam Bahawalpur, Pakistan September 13, 2010

G-d listens. Great ! Thanks and G-d bless. Reply

Hadassah Deer Pasrk, WA via jewishspokane.com September 11, 2010

Thank you very much! I needed this today and everyday...I want to be in His will and learn more of Him.... Reply

Shahid September 10, 2010

Beautiful! "And G-d listens. Because He wishes to dwell within our mundane world."

This is beautiful!

Thanks and regards. Reply

clara toulouse, FR September 8, 2010

this is the outpuring of my heart

thanks for being the lips

may g-d answer already!

for us all - amen! Reply

Cuauhtémoc Vite guadalajara, jalisco, méxico September 7, 2010

Dear Rabbi: This is a loving and diaphanous text. We wish you:
Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteijateim (may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year)!! Reply

Anonymous w September 7, 2010

Thank you I'll have to listen attentively for this Haftorah.

Shana Tovah- may all your prayers be answered this year. Reply

Tamar NY September 15, 2009

Chana's prayer To anonymous of Brooklyn
(you seem to have many cousins all over the world with the same name :-) !

The story referred to in this article is in the first two chapters of Samuel 1.
It is read in the synagogue as part of the service on the first day of Rosh Hashana Reply

Anonymous Los Angeles, Calif. September 15, 2009

Chanahs prayer Tsvi Freidmans article is heartfelt and meaningful. It is spiritual fuel that will help uplift us through challenging mpments of fear and solitude. Ones essence can feel clarity, light and freedom through the humble prayer like Channah. Reply

Anonymous Las Vegas, NV June 10, 2009

Judaism A few months ago I started to study the Jewish faith. This site is excellent and has compelled me to learn more. Reply

Anonymous brooklyn, ny February 10, 2009

Chana's Prayer Can someone please post a downloadable *.pdf of Chana's prayer? Thanks. Reply

Anita Canada September 24, 2008

Channa's Prayer I really like this Jewish site,,, It inspires me, I am not Jewish but really like God, and I strive to do his will. Reply

jacob(james) cooley kcity, mo November 15, 2006

hannah's prayer where was this when i was a kid? This is so rich, where were my teachers? I could read/study this all day long now. L-rd willing this will not happen to my kids, they will know this.... Reply

Tzvi Freeman May 22, 2005

RE: Rabbi Tzvi Freeman's articles on Women and Torah Rabbi Moshe Cordovero explains in Pardes Rimonim and in Tomer Devora that the man is the funnel through which life comes from "the Shechina above to the Shechina below"--in other words, to his wife. I think that just about answers everything. Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, New York May 19, 2005

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman's articles on Women and Torah Rabbi Tzvi Freeman's articles on the role of women in Torah are among the most informative and inspiring I've come across -- shedding a soft but illuminating light on controversial and difficult areas allowing women to feel appropriately empowered within the framework Hashem has given us. I have a question that perhaps the Rabbi could address at some future time: It is said that a woman's shefa comes through her husband or father yet it is also said that she is the source of her husband's shefa. Is she only reflecting his light, as the moon reflects the sun's light or does she have her own inner source of light and how do the two concepts fit together?
Thank you, and much success in all of your endeavors. Reply

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