Rabbi Elazar said, I have raised my hands in prayer before the Holy King, since we were taught that a person is not permitted to raise his hands upward, except at prayer, at blessings and at supplications to his master. It is written [about Abraham, who said to the King of Sodom]: "I have raised my hand to G‑d, the most high E-l", (Gen. 14:23) which was translated into Aramaic as "I have raised my hands in prayer," since the fingers of the hands contain high matter [as the 10 fingers hint to the 10 sefirot]. Now this is my practice [to raise my hands in prayer] and I say that whoever arranges these four [destitute, pious, servants, and those that sanctify His name] before his Master and conforms himself with a willing heart in this appropriate rectification properly, his prayers will not return unanswered.

At first, one must be as a servant — that is to prepare praises for his Master and sing for Him. That refers to the praises before the standing prayer (Amida). Following this standing prayer, one is a servant who arranges prayer to his Master. Following this, one is a servant who completed his entire prayer and left. That is why David considered himself a servant three times in this prayer, as is written: "O You, my Elokim, save Your servant" and "Rejoice the soul of Your servant." It is also written: "Give Your strength to Your servant." (Psalms 86:16) We have here three occasions [before the Amida, following the Amida, and after the entire prayer service] that there is a need to consider oneself a servant.

Afterwards, one must place oneself among those who sanctify the Holy Name by giving up their souls for His sake. That is accomplished at the unification of the "Shema Yisrael," for whoever places such willingness at this verse, it is considered as if he gave up his soul for the sanctification of G‑d's name.

Then he must consider himself as poor, since during the time when he enters and knocks at the doors of the most high up, when he finished saying 'true and certain', and he has juxtaposed the words 'who have redeemed' to the Amida prayer, he shall recite the Amida prayer broken at heart, poor and destitute. And he shall will himself to be included among the poverty-stricken in broken heart and humility of soul.

Following this, one must consider himself among the pious during the blessing: "He Who hears prayer" to confess his sins, for that is the individual's obligation during the Silent prayer to adhere to the right [the side of chesed] which is extended to receive those who repent, and then he is considered pious. Here we have these four [the poor, the pious, the servant, and the one who offers his soul to sanctify the Name], as is appropriate.

Whoever combines all those? The one who should integrate them is the servant that includes all the rest. "Servant" is found three times at three places and all are one. About them it is written: 'Behold, as the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their masters'. Between each servant are found the rest: between the first servant [before the Amida prayer] and the servant afterwards [after the Amida prayer], one needs to offer his soul for the sake of sanctifying G‑d's name. One needs to consider himself as poor and destitute during the Standing Prayer and place himself among the pious during the blessing: "He Who hears prayer". The third servant follows after he completed and arranged it all [after the entire prayer].

We were taught that at the time that a person puts in sequence all these four arrangements with a willing heart, he is desirous to G‑d. And He spreads His right hand over him at that third servant [after the entire prayer] and He calls him and says to him, "You are My servant," as it is written: "And said to me, 'You are My servant Israel, in whom I will be glorified.'" (Isaiah 49:3) It is certain that the prayer of this man will not ever return empty. Rabbi Aba approached and kissed him.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: What does the above mean to you, and why is it being revealed to you now?

"You've gotta serve somebody" espoused modern rock prophet Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) in the early 1980s. His message is true. And what is referred to as "service"? Our Sages answer: This is the service of the heart - Prayer. And through prayer one stands at the heights of the universe.

The above Zohar is most comprehensible to those who are familiar with the daily weekday prayer service. Those who get up every day and surrender a good hour of their life to the structured ritual of prayer are thus rewarded.

G‑d desires the heart. Whether you pray more or less, the most important thing is being mindful. To serve one's Master of the Universe not for the sake of receiving a reward, but out of love for your Eternal Friend—that is the highest level.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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