PRAYER AND FASTING HALACHOT
Prayer: With few words or many?
Messiah said: "And you, when you pray, multiply not words like the Goyim do, who
think that in an abundance of words they will be heard. But you do not be like
them: for your Father knows what is needed for you before you ask Him. (Matt.
Prayer: Which is preferred, public or private?
The Pharisees say: "One who says the Tefillah so that it can be heard is of the
small of faith, he who raises his voice in praying is of the false prophets.'"
R. Huna said: "This was meant to apply only if he is able to concentrate his
attention when speaking in a whisper, but if he cannot concentrate his attention
when speaking in a whisper, it is allowed. And this is the case only when he is
praying alone, but if he is with the congregation [he must not do so because] he
may disturb the congregation." (b.Ber.24b)
Messiah said: "And be not like the hypocrites when you pray, for they delight to
stand in the assemblies and at the corners of the streets to pray, that men may
see them. Truly I tell you, that they already have received their reward. But
you, when you pray, enter into your chamber, and shut the door, and pray to your
Father, which is in secret: and your Father, which sees in secret, will
recompense you publicly." (Matt. 6:5-6)
How are we to understand "enter into your chamber and shut the door?"
It is as we read concerning Chanoch (Enoch) in the Book of Jasher:
"And the soul of Chanoch was wrapped up in the instruction of YHWH, in knowledge
and in understanding; and he knew the ways of YHWH, and he wisely retired from
the sons of men, and secreted himself from them for many days. And it was at the
end of many days and years, while he was serving before YHWH, and praying before
YHWH in [his] house and in [his] chamber, that an angel of YHWH called to him
from Heaven saying: Chanoch, Chanoch, and he said, Here am I." (Jasher 3:2-3)
By this we understand that when we are in our "chamber" we are "wrapped up"
creating a private "chamber" in our Tallit in which to pray.
Fasting: Public or private?
It is said of the Essenes:
"They think oil is defilement; and if one of them is anointed without his own
approbation, it is wiped off his body; for they think to be sweaty is a good
thing." (Josephus; Wars 2:8:3)
But Messiah said:
"And you, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites: for they begrime and
disfigure their faces, that they may appear in the sight of men to fast. Amen, I tell you
that they already have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash
your face, That you appear not to men to fast, but to your Father which is in secret, who
will recompense you publicly. (Matt. 6:16-18)