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Open Your Mouth

Open Your Mouth


"My L-rd, open my mouth, that it may declare Your praise." (Tehillim 51:17)

It's a typical scene, a friend or a guest is visiting and my toddler strikes up a conversation with them. He excitedly tells them something or makes a proclamation. They turn to me clueless and ask, "What did he say?" I translate. We're all speaking the same language, but only I can decipher what he is saying. Only his Mommy seems to be able to understand and decode his words, knows his needs and shed light unto his babble. Even his Poppy (daddy), who absolutely adores him and wants to understand him, doesn't always comprehend and frequently turns to me with the same question, "What did he say?" What's so special about me that I have the capacity to understand what others don't and interpret when other can't?

"Blessed are You, L-rd who hears prayer." (sixteenth blessing of the daily Prayer)

On more than one occasion someone has asked me how to pray. "How do I pray? What should I say? I'm not sure what to ask for… is G‑d really going to listen to me anyways?" Before beginning the formal daily Prayer, a prayer which includes nineteen blessings, one must begin the Prayer with the verse from Psalms, "My L-rd, open my mouth, that it may declare Your praise." (This was instituted by the Sages. See Berachot 4b.) The way a person begins to pray is simply by asking G‑d to open their mouth.

There are many factors which give me, my son's mother the ability to understand him when no one else can. Love and patience are important factors. There's also the desire to comprehend. But grandparents and other relatives share this and yet they still don't know what the child is saying. It's something else. You see I spend hours upon hours listening to my child. I now know how to read his expressions and his body language. I know my child because I am with my child.

When you don't know what to say or how to say it, watch a child and do the same. First you begin by opening your mouth. You let out a sound, a squeal or a babble. The babble turns into a toddler's words and the words turn into a child's sentences. Soon the sentences mature and communication develops.

When it comes to prayer, G‑d is like a mommy. Not only does He love us and have infinite patience, but He knows us and if we let Him into our hearts and lives, He becomes a part of us. The more we allow Him to enter, the more we talk to Him, the easier the words will flow and the more we will make ourselves understood.

Originally from northern California and a Stanford University graduate, Elana Mizrahi now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children. She is a doula, massage therapist, writer, and author of Dancing Through Life, a book for Jewish women. She also teaches Jewish marriage classes for brides.
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Tina Kirkland, WA June 9, 2009

Thank You Thank you for teaching me the first thing to say! I do not take your words for granted. I have two grown children, and a granddaughter for whom I still need to translate her words, so I understand your message completely and very much enjoyed reading it. Shalom. Reply

TracyKay Morera Middlebury, VT/USA September 25, 2007

Prayer Of course...what a beautiful reminder.
Thank you. Reply

Ilana Jerusalem September 23, 2007

Very nice! Very sweet analogy. Reply

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