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Letter of Approbation by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo (former Chief Rabbi of Israel)

BSD, 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 Names 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 prayer.

Israel Meir Lau.

For the original Haskama letter in Hebrew click here

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