IN WHICH I REPLY TO MIS-NAGID AND OPEN MYSELF TO A WORLD OF PAIN Mis-Nagid, president of the "We-read-DovBear-even-though-he-is-in-the-grasp-of a nefarious-cult-fan club " writes:
Why is prayer any more reasonable than a red string?
Prayer is more reasonable, because prayer (like hard work and exercise) can be a form of self-improvement. How?
Samson Rephael Hirsch, who was smarter than Mis-Nagid, and also more handsome, said that the root word for "thought possible", "Peelail" (Pey, Lamed, Lamed), is related the word "Tefilah", prayer. The root word is also phonetically related to the word "Beelail," which means mixing two substances together to make them one.
Rabbi Hirsch says that "Beelail" (mixing) is to material substance what "Peelail" is to ideas, thoughts, facts, or principles. In the Jewish sense, prayer means [Quoting Hirsch; you can tell from the needlessly flowery language that this sentance began in German.] "to penetrate oneself ever afresh again, with eternal, everlasting truths and facts", to prevent them from becoming unclear and obscure.
According to this explanation, prayer is not from within outward, but from without inward. It is a time of reflection on truths, which in turn become part of our essential being. This is the reason why Jewish Prayer involves the use of a liturgy, filled with ideas and perspectives, which, with daily review, can become clearer and clearer to us.
Mis-Nagid might call this brainwashing, and he's right, but only in the sense that any study is a form of brainwashing.