As I’m sure you noticed, I have stopped attending your Friday night service. It is really nothing personal, everyone there was welcoming and a great bunch of people. It’s just that I feel like a liar saying the prayers when I don’t know if I believe in them. How can I proclaim “love G‑d with all your heart” when I don’t really feel that way?


You have been married a couple of years now. I know that you love your wife dearly. But have you ever woken up one morning with a sense that you’ve lost that loving feeling? It could be that there has been a little tension between you (something perfectly normal in any good relationship), or maybe you have been feeling down for other reasons, or perhaps for no apparent reason at all; you just feel that your heart has turned to stone, and the warmth and love you once felt has all but disappeared.

What if, just at that moment, your wife asked you, “Do you love me?” Would it be a lie to tell her that you love her at such a time? Should you rather be honest and say, “Darling, right now, I’m not sure I do”?

Of course not! You should tell her confidently, “Of course I love you!” (And she’ll say, “I know, I just had to hear it.”) And that is not a lie. Because you do love her, it is just that the love is not manifest in your heart at that moment. It is there, it hasn’t gone anywhere, but your heart is blocked, and is not allowing you to experience the loving feeling. Just because you don’t feel the love doesn’t mean that you are no longer in love. You are just going through a “low,” as we all do from time to time, but the love is really there as it always was.

So it is perfectly honest to say “I love you,” even at a moment when you don’t feel it. And something weird happens when you do. Your heart starts to melt. Just by mouthing the words “I love you,” not because you felt like saying it, but because she needed to hear it, you have reached out of yourself, breaking through the shell that is blocking your heart. Now you are open to feel again. It won’t be long before the love starts gushing back, more powerful and passionate than ever.

The same applies to our relationship with G‑d. Our soul loves G‑d already, because our soul is a part of Him. But we often don’t feel that love in our hearts. We are spiritually blocked, our hearts are frozen to the soul and its feelings. The love is there, just like the soul is there, it is just not felt, not apparent.

We don’t have to wait for those feelings to come in order to pray. Sometimes it is the other way around—by saying the words of the prayers, even without feeling them, the layers of cynicism and doubt start to melt away and our soul starts to shine through.

In fact, there is no deeper prayer than this. When you tell your wife you love her, not because you feel that way right now, but because she needs to hear it, and you know it’s really true, what deeper expression of love could there be? In the same way, when you say the prayer not because you feel it, but because G‑d wants to hear it, then you are truly saying it for Him.