Letter of Approbation by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief
Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo (former Chief Rabbi of Israel)
BS”D, Kislev 5766
Prayer is all-inclusive. It is the
cord that connects man to his Maker – in entreaty and in
supplication, in thanksgiving concerning the past and in
pleading concerning the future, in praise for what one
has and in beseeching for that which one lacks.
Prayer is among the most important things in the world;
it is the very air that the soul breathes. Our Sages
taught that “Prayer for the soul is like food for the
body”. Like fresh air and food, prayer is a basic
necessity – for men and women alike. While the public
prayer services, at set times, are incumbent only upon
men, prayer in and of itself is a need experienced by
everyone, including non-Jews, as King Solomon asks: “And
furthermore, concerning a stranger who is not of Your
people, Israel, and who comes from a far country for
Your Name’s sake… when he comes to pray towards this
House, You shall hear it in heaven…”.
It is no coincidence that all of the laws of prayer are
deduced from the prayer of Hannah, mother of the prophet
Samuel, who poured forth her whispering supplication
before the Creator, beseeching him for a child. A woman,
who experiences transformations in her life and her body
– from childhood to maturity, from fertility in
potential to pregnancy and childbirth - is close to the
Creator, Who, in His goodness, continually renews her
qualities and capacities, and the image of the woman
covering her face with her hands as she stands before
the Shabbat candles offering a prayer to God for her
husband and children, is the image of prayer that each
of us carries in his or her memory.
The formal prayer service that was established by the
Men of the Great Assembly, some of whom were prophets,
was formulated with great precision, with every letter
of every word representing great and exalted mystical
allusions. At the same time, there is another sort of
prayer: a prayer that comes from the heart. It is spoken
by every person in his own language and his own words,
and in accordance with his own set of circumstances at
that given time. Both types enter the gates of prayer,
side by side.
Tefilat Nashim is a book that brings together both types
of prayer. Many of the prayers included in it were
written long ago by renowned rabbis and sages, whose
prayers have been adopted throughout the Jewish world.
Other prayers have been composed from the heart by
individual Jews in times of trouble and crisis.
While the content of the book is mostly very old, the
form is new. The innovation here is the modern style and
format, appealing to women who are unfamiliar with
Jewish tradition and who are uncomfortable with the
standard prayer book. Tefilat Nashim aims to draw
Israeli women closer to the prayer book.
It is my prayer that many women will find, in this book,
that which their soul desires: supplication for all
times and for all circumstances.
Prepare their hearts, listen to them, and accept our
prayers with compassion and with favor, for You hear