Ever wonder why everyone in the synagogue appears to be mumbling? Why are we so quiet in our conversations with God?

The answer goes way back in history to a woman named Hannah.

Hannah, the beloved wife of Elkanah, longed to have a child. Elkanah already had ten sons with his second wife, Penina, and believed that the love he had for Hannah should have been sufficient to make her happy. But Hannah desperately wanted a child.

At the Tabernacle at Shilo, Hannah made her way to the sanctuary, where she poured out her soul to God. The prayer, as described by the Midrash, was a heart-wrenching plea questioning the definition of her own existence (ex: What purpose are my breasts if I cannot nurse?). But not a word of her prayer was uttered above a whisper.

Having watched her enter the sanctuary and seen her lips move silently, Eli, the High Priest, assumed that Hannah was drunk.

“How long will you be drunk?” he demanded. When Eli was corrected and informed that she was praying, he bestowed a blessing on her that her prayers should be answered. Within a year, Hannah bore a son, whom she named Shmuel (Samuel the Prophet), for God had heard her prayers.

The sages learned from Hannah’s prayers that quiet prayer is truly powerful. It is for that reason that the silent Amidah (central prayer) is recited just loud enough for a person to hear him/herself.

So next time you feel the need to pour out your soul to God, don’t worry, He’s listening, even if you simply whisper your prayer into your bluetooth!

This Treat was last posted on October 6, 2008.

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