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    Does God need our prayers? – Tol’dot

    The Torah text says that Isaac entreated God on behalf of his barren wife Rivkah (Gen. 25:22). The Targum Onkelos amends the word “entreated” to “prayed”.

    Another change made by Onkelos is to insert the word “before”: i.e. “Isaac prayed before the Lord”. This seems to remove the close physicality of the person who is praying towards the One to whom he is praying.

    In fact it suggests another dimension of prayer, that it brings benefit to the pray-er, not to God. As Maimonides reminds us (Guide to the Perplexed 3:32), God remains pure, perfect and permanent, regardless of whether we pray to Him. Our aim in prayer is to change things in and around ourselves, not to change God.

    Someone once said, “He who rises from prayer as a better person, his prayer has been answered.”

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