Directing the Heart
“One who prays must direct his eyes downward and his heart upward.” (Yevamot 105b, Rambam in Laws of Prayer 5:4)
The heart represents the seat of one’s concentration. Therefore, an instruction to direct one’s heart upward implies that one should concentrate on his prayers, directing them to
“For you are dust and to dust you will return.” (Ber. 3:19)
In yet a deeper sense, the mentioning of one’s eyes can be understood as a reference to the “mind’s eye”. One of the implications in directing the mind’s eye downward towards the ground can be seen as a directive to remind a person that his physical body originates from earth, where he will inevitably be forced to return one day. In contrast to this, the heart is directed upwards, to remind a person that his main concern should be for his soul, which comes from under
With this idea in mind the worshiper will be reminded to pray for the eternal soul that is within him, and for that which is truly important, instead of just asking for material things, which are often in the end of little and no lasting benefit.
According to the above we can understand why prayer helps change a person’s perspective on life. Talking to
Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive guide, rather a brief summary to raise awareness of the issues. In any real case one should ask a competent Halachic authority.
L'iluy Nishmas the Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R' Yechezkel Shraga, Rav Yaakov Yeshaya ben R' Boruch Yehuda, and l'zchus for Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam and her children for a yeshua teikef u'miyad!