In Brachos 14 there is a discussion about interruptions in the Shma. In the middle of this discussion there is a digression about doing things prior to prayers. Rabbi Ashean (a name almost never seen in the Talmud) states: “it is forbidden to do ones “wants” before prayer. The Magid shiur made it clear that “wants” was different than “needs” which is usually referred to as our morning bodily functions.
So what is “Wants” The SD would like to make reference to an article he read by R. David Aaron last week about tfila. He notes the word in Hebrew we commonly referred to as prayer is “lihespallel”. He says the first time this word is seen is by Jacob in parsha Vayhehi when he claims I never “pillalti” to see Joseph again. Rash says the word “pillalti” means “filled my heart or thought” . The word lihespallel according to rabbi aaron does not mean pray in the English or contemporary understanding. The word is more reflexive meaning our thinking, our contemplation. When we “pray” according to Rabbi Aaron we are not begging for things, rather we are reflecting on ourselves and our mission in life. Real prayer internal and introspective. It make us reflect upon ourselves.
So back to the “Wants.” Before we can begin our day, our work, our play, our journey life, we need to spend some time reflecting, putting our head straight. Rabbi Ashean is saying that before you attempt to do your daily work, challenges or journey, take some time to pray to make sure that you get right. Put your head on straight to attack the day. This comports nicely with Rabbi Aaron’s approach to prayer which says that prayer is for us to reflect and grow ourselves and not beg Gd to bring us the rent money.
We need to pray before we begin our day, not only to thank gd for delivering on our wants, but for us to have a head, the composure and the right frame of mind to pursue our wants.