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The Rabbi Who Prayed

Once upon a time, many years ago, there lived a great rabbi. This rabbi was wise, and he was a very religious man. He observed the sabbath each and every week. Exactly at sundown on Friday evening, the beginning of the Jewish sabbath, he lit the candles and said the blessings and stopped all unnecessary work.

Perhaps that was not all that remarkable; after all, many people observe a sabbath day each and every week. But this wise and very religious rabbi did more than just observe the sabbath. He kept all the religious laws, and carried out all the required religious practices: he kept kosher, he said all the required prayers, and so on. But this rabbi did more than merely observe all the religious laws. This rabbi set aside a whole hour each day for prayer — prayer above and beyond what was required. That's how religious he was.

A man and a woman in his shul were most impressed with their rabbi, especially that he prayed for an hour each day. But, at the same time, they didn't quite believe that the rabbi really prayed for a whole hour each and every day. One day, when they met him in the street, they went up to him, and greeted him respectfully.

"Rabbi, is it true that you pray for an hour each and every day?" said the woman.

"Yes," said the rabbi. "It is true."

"And," said the woman, "this hour of prayer, this is in addition to all the other prayers you might say in a day? I mean, in addition to the prayers before meals, and all the other required prayers?"

"Why, yes," said the rabbi.

"But rabbi, why do you do this?" said the man.

"To pray is a blessing," said the rabbi, surprised that anyone would ask. "God has given us the blessing of religion, which includes prayer. Why would I not accept such a wonderful blessing from God?"

The man and the woman were silent for a moment.

"But rabbi," said the man, "when you are particularly busy, when you have too much to do and not enough time to do it in, when you are feeling frazzled and overworked, surely then you do not pray for a whole hour, not on busy day like that?"

"Oh, no," said the rabbi. "No, on those days, I pray for two hours."