"Come now therefore, I pray you, curse me this people..." (Num. 22:6) Rabbi Aba opened [his discourse] with the verse: "A prayer of the afflicted/poor, when he wraps (himself with a prayer shawl)..." (Psalms 102:1) There are three for whom the expression "prayer" is written and this subject has already been explained. One was Moses [prayer from tiferet rising through da'at], one was David [prayer from the level of malchut] and one is the poor man [from the level of yesod] that was included with them and was connected together with them [because yesod includes tiferet and connects between tiferet and malchut causing the union of the spiritual and physical]. You may say that we also find it written: "A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk," (Habakkuk 3:1) for a total of four. [However,] that of Habakkuk's was not said for the reason of prayer, even though the word prayer is written about it, it is rather praise and thanks for G‑d for having revived him and performed miracles on his behalf and mighty deeds since he was the son of Shunamite [and Elisha revitalized him from death].

However, there are [only] three aspects [levels of prayer for us to channel into] that are considered to be prayer: "A prayer of Moses the man of Elokim." (Psalms 90:1) This prayer has no comparable equal by any other person [for Moses was a divine man]. "A prayer of David:" (Psalms 86:1) This prayer has no comparable equal by any other king. "A prayer of the poor" (Psalms 102:1) is one prayer of the three mentioned. Which is the most important? It is said that it is, "A prayer of the poor": this prayer takes priority over Moses' prayer, is before David's prayer, and preempts all other prayers of the world.

What is the reason? Because the poor man is broken-hearted and it is written: "G‑d is near to them who are of a broken heart." (Psalms 34:19) The destitute has constant complaints with G‑d and G‑d listens and pays attention to his words. [His prayer rises in its humility from his broken heart and accompanies the prayer of the Shechinah to her beloved as She complains and mourns the suffering of Israel in the Exile. He asks G‑d to save him and this is arouses compassion above and this in turn leads to the unification of the Shechinah and the Holy One Blessed be He in the spiritual world.]

As soon as the poor man says his prayer, He [G‑d] opens all the windows of the firmament, and all the rest of the prayers rising above get pushed away by that destitute, broken-hearted prayer, as is written: "A prayer of the afflicted, when he wraps [in Hebrew, 'ya'atof', causative form]..." It should have said, 'When he wraps himself [in Hebrew, 'yit'ataf']. Why "ya'atof"? This means that he is “putting in wraps” or delaying all the other prayers of the world for all other prayers do not enter in until his prayer enters. 'itufa' means "delay" as in " the ones that delayed [in Hebrew, 'ha'atufim'] were Laban's." (Gen. 30:42)

G‑d said, 'Let all the prayers get delayed so that this prayer should rise to Me. I do not require a court session to intervene between us. Let all his complaints come directly to Me, and I and he shall settle it on our own, exclusively.' And G‑d is left alone with these complaints in that prayer, as is written: "And pours out his complaint before G‑d," (Psalms 102:1) truly "before G‑d" [without any other intermediary].

All the hosts of heaven inquire each of the other; what is G‑d dealing with, in which area is He exerting Himself? They reply: He is concentrating on His private vessels [the broken-hearted] and desiring to be alone with them. [The evil inclination and attachment to external matters are far from this broken hearted prayer. This makes the righteous one who prays in this manner a fitting vessel to receive “suffering caused by love” from above and when this is accepted in humility this selfless action purifies the Shechinah from the evil surrounding Her and She in enabled to unite with Zeir Anpin.] Everyone is not aware of what is accomplished by the prayer of the destitute and all his complaints, since there is no other desire for the poor except when he spills his tears and his grievances and his pleas in front of the Holy King [since this helps alleviate the pain weighing on his heart]. There is no passion for G‑d except [that which is aroused] when He accepts them and they pour out [their complaints] before Him. This is the prayer that causes delay to all the other prayers of the world.

Moses poured forth his prayer and was held up [by G‑d] for several [forty] days due to that prayer [that did not enter immediately like the poor man's]. David saw that all the windows and gates of heaven were ready to open to the prayer of the poor and that there exists no other prayer in the world to which G‑d will give His immediate attention as to the poor man's prayer. As soon as he saw this, he made himself poor and destitute, removed his royal attire, sat on the ground like the destitute, and said his prayer as it is written: "A prayer of David. Incline Your ear, G‑d, hear me." (Psalms 86:1) If you say why, it is "for I am poor and needy." G‑d replied to him, 'David, aren't you king and ruler over mighty kings, and you make yourself out to be poor and needy?' Immediately, he returned to pray in another manner and left out the words poor and needy, and said, "Preserve my soul; for I am pious" (Psalms 86:2) despite all these aspects [both piety and destitution1] that were in David. [Sometimes the sefira of malchut is destitute of influence from the other sefirot and at other times it is uplifted as it were to the “arms” of Zeir Anpin – the levels of chesed and gevura].

Rabbi Elazar said to him: You spoke well. But with all that [you said that King David changed direction from being destitute to being pious], a person who pours out his prayers must make himself poor, so that his prayers will be worthy to enter among the prayers of all the poor. [Every person has the ability to humble himself and pray with the humility of a poor man who so often has his requests rejected by others that he turns passionately to G‑d.] This allows his prayer to rise up with the prayers of all the other poor for the guardians of the gates do not allow them to just simply enter as they allow the poor one's prayer, since they enter without permission [from the guardians]. If a person makes himself like this and constantly expresses his intention as a poor person would [passionately and with humility], his prayer ascends and meets up with the prayers of the poor. It joins up with them and rises together with them, and enters in combination with theirs. And it is received with compassion before the Holy King.

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

Do you want to have your prayers answered? The above Zohar transmits an important message: humble yourself as if a poor man who depends on the support of others. After all, we get by with a lotta help from our Friend -— G‑d. In fact, we find in mystical prayer books that before the Standing Prayer one is to imagine himself with the Shechinah as a poor person soliciting from a benefactor, and what a Benefactor He is!

He who is full of self has no room for G‑d. Break the ego's attachment onto your self-hood. Ask for help—no one else will for you! Pray sincerely for an answer. Lubricate this request well with free-giving of tzedakah, good deeds, teshuva, and Torah study. Shoot for the moon if necessary, for no request is beyond G‑d's Providence be it for health, wealth, or wisdom.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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