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Prayer as Madness

Prayer as Madness


Prayer is a form of madness. Tell me that it is rational to talk to the Force of Being as though this were your closest confidant. Tell me that it is not absurd to plead with this force to adjust reality more to your liking--as though you know better how to run the universe.

Prayer, like love, is more about losing yourself A philosopher cannot pray--unless he loses his mind. A pragmatist does not pray until he loses control. Prayer, like love, is more about losing yourself than it is about finding any great truth.

If so, should we not strive to be reasonable people? Why have we institutionalized madness?

This is something vital to know: There is madness and there is madness. There is blind, stupid madness; madness not worth listening to because it has nothing to say. And there is madness that has very much to say, so much the mind cannot listen unless it sits quiet and still.

There is madness that transforms human beings into monsters, imprisoning them within the worst of their own fantasies--and there is madness that lies at the nucleus of being human, a divine spark that makes us free, living beings and not mechanical humanoids. To pray is to find the Essence of Life within your own heart.

It is at that nub of madness that lies beyond reason and intellect, that lies at our very core and essence, it is there that we touch the core and essence of reality, that which we call G‑d. And from there we speak with G‑d, for there the two of us are one.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Painting by Chassidic artist Zalman Kleinman.
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Discussion (12)
December 23, 2014
We are not mad. Everything is in it's place and moving forward as it should.
Paul Bourgeois
December 22, 2013
Labels always bother me because then there is prejudgment, but your words are the closest to describe what I have come to know...touching that place of oneness with the force of being.
janet menegakis
September 26, 2010
Prayer as Madness
I'm a little bit afraid to say this but here goes: I have gone mad and have lost my mind through not knowing-in a sense-if G-D existed for me and without being certain that G-D is there-I feel one could easily go mad many times over-it is this uncertainty that leads to a curiousity about whether G-D exists or not and this curiousity keeps us going no matter how many times we topple into the hospital due to madness-it keeps us loving G-D.and praying for a real life
Judith L Witten
Brockton, MA/USA
October 30, 2009
For madness, may i substitute the term supra-rational. It is a type of irrationality like madness, except that it really expresses the transcendent faith/emuna/metziris nefesh (sacrificing level of faith ) that evokes'conversations' with G-d. It works really well when applied to the Moda Ani wake-up prayer when we thank G-d for his great faith ( Rabba Emunatecha ) in us. We start our day on a two way connection. Can it get much better than this ?
winnipeg, canada
June 21, 2009
define madness
Webster-disordered in mind,insane; being rash & foolish; furious,enraged;carried away by enthusiasm; rabid; marked by wild gaiety and merriment.
I was upset at first reading this article because I said to myself, how can praying be madness? Untill I realized I had the wrong idea of madness. Take away the insanity, and we have prayer. And the way it should be said.
Norm Siller
Orlando, Fl
October 1, 2006
Powerful and beautiful- thank you.
The paintig is magnificent too.
September 28, 2006
response to Susan
That's what makes composing your own prayer so difficult for most of us--it's hard to sustain that loss of self-consciousness while searching for just the right word. So, when we do utter our own words of prayer, it usually comes out rather cryptic. As in the classic "Oy Tattty!"
Perhaps that's what King Solomon meant when he said, "G_d is in the heavens and you are on earth--so make your words short and snappy!"
Tzvi Freeman (Author)
Thornhill, ON
September 28, 2006
prayer as madness
Thought provoking as always.

Does this apply to all prayer? ie, one's own words as well as formal preset words.
Susan Deutsch
Toronto, Canada
September 27, 2006
wow! fantastic... May G-d accept all our prayers.
esther piekarski
September 26, 2006
Prayer as Madness
Asking G-d for anything no longer holds any meaning for me. The only prayer that is real for me is prayer that brings me close to the Presence. Prayer is like love-making: technique is unimportant, the heart connection and the closeness is everything.
Will Rogers
Petaluma, CA