Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

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 mostly 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 that madness within your heart and set it free.

At that nub of madness that lies beyond reason and intellect that lies at our very core and essence, 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.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
leon roiter barranquilla June 25, 2017

Tzvi: Prayer is an important component of your belief system.The daily repetition af the same words in shacharit will give you the opportunity to appreciate the difference of each day. Jews have known, since the time of the Patriarch Abraham the power that repetition carries within itself. One continuous drop of water falling yom yom will become, in time, a powerful river. With time, repeating the words in shacharit will make your connection with The Force of Being very strong. You will hear,when in silence, a very loud confirmation that He has been listening. You will feel the power of The force of Being. You will not need a rational explanation for that feeling. Reply

Paul Bourgeois Halifax December 23, 2014

We are not mad. Everything is in it's place and moving forward as it should. Reply

janet menegakis MA 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. Reply

Judith L Witten Brockton, MA/USA 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 Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada October 30, 2009

madness 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 ? Reply

Norm Siller Orlando, Fl 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. Reply

Miri October 1, 2006

Powerful and beautiful- thank you.
The paintig is magnificent too.

Tzvi Freeman (Author) Thornhill, ON 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!" Reply

Susan Deutsch Toronto, Canada 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. Reply

esther piekarski September 27, 2006

wow! fantastic... May G-d accept all our prayers. Reply

Will Rogers Petaluma, CA via 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. Reply

Sarah Goldstein via September 26, 2006

Wow...Amazing article. I never really thought of prayer that way, but when I think about it, it makes sense. After all, whenever I am truly praying, truly connected to G-d, my mind is devoid of all else, and is this not a form of madness. Thanks for the excellent soul and mind food! Reply

tzion daromi September 25, 2006

excellent Reply

Related Topics
This page in other languages