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Friday, Kislev 4, 5784 / November 17, 2023


Parshat, Toldot tells us that Yitzchak and Rivkah were married many years but had no children. They prayed and G-d answered their prayers.  Rivkah conceived and gave birth to twins – Esau and Yaakov.


Q.   There are three daily prayers. The Morning prayer (Shacharis); Afternoon prayer (Mincha); and the Evening prayer (Ma’ariv).  Why do we have three prayers daily?


A.   The three prayers are associated with our three patriarchs– Avraham (Abraham),Yitzchak (Isaac)and Yaakov (Jacob). The Torah associates their prayers to different times of the day. The Shacharis (morning) prayer is related to Avraham; Mincha (afternoon) prayer to Yitzchak; and the Ma’ariv(evening) service is linked to Yaakov (Jacob). The three prayers recall their merits in order to bring about a positive response to our prayers.


The three prayers also remind us to be connected to G-d all day long! The Shacharit service is recited before one begins the working day. The Mincha service is recited in the afternoon, during work hours.  Ma’ariv is recited after finishing our workday. 


In a deeper sense, the three prayers represent three different periods in a person's life.  "Shacharit" represents a person's early years when one attends Yeshiva or Hebrew school.   "Ma’ariv" represents a person's retirement years.  During this time, one has more time to attend synagogue and become active in the Jewish community.  The Mincha service represents a person’s working years. 


Our sages say, “A person must be extra careful with the Mincha prayer.”  Our sages teach us that it is not enough to study Torah and attend synagogue during the early childhood years, or later, during the retirement years. Rather, one must be very careful with the "Mincha years," when we are busy working and doing business; when we are so occupied with our material and financial success, it is during these years that we must be extra careful to fulfill our responsibilities, as Jews, to ourselves, our family, and our community.


Q, Why is the Shmona Esrei prayer, in each of the three prayers, recited silently?


A. The Talmudic sage Rabbi Yochanan says, “Why did our sages institute that the prayers be recited quietly? In order not to embarrass the sinners who confess their sins during prayer.”


Q.    Abraham’s original name, Avram, was changed to, “Avraham.”  Yaakov also, In addition to his original name, Yaakov, the name “Israel” was later added.  Why was Yitzchak’s name left as is?


A.  G-d changed the name “Avram” which means, “Father of onenation,” to Abraham whichmeans, “Father of a multitude of nations.”  Yaakov, comes from the word, “heel.” He was called so because at birth he held on to his twin brother’s heel. The angel later added the name “Israel” which means “master.” But “Yitzchak” means, “Happiness, joy and laughter.”  There was no reason to change his name for anything better.  The Torah says, “Serve G-d with joy!” Happiness is everything!



Montreal candle lighting time: 4:04 / Shabbat ends: 5:09