by Janice, March 25, 2004
"And it was, when she prayed more and more before Adonai, that Eli watched her mouth, and Chanah spoke to her heart. [Since]
only her lips were moving but her voice was not heard, Eli thought her to be drunk.  And Eli said to her, 'How long will you [stay]
drunk?  Turn aside your wine from yourself.'  And Chanah answered and said, 'No, my lord, a woman sharply pained in spirit
I am, but wine and strong drink I have not drunk.  Instead I pour out my soul before Adonai.  Think not [of] your handmaid as
a daughter of worthlessness, for from the depth of my troubles and grief have I been speaking."  Sh'muel Alef (1 Samuel 1:12-16).

For Chanah, her greatest anguish was being barren and childless -- unfruitful.  As a result of a period of intense prayer, Adonai
blessed her with Sh'mu'el (Samuel), .the anointed prophet of G-D, whom she, in turn, gave to Adonai for life -- service as a cohen
(priest).  After the blessing of Sh'mu'el, G-D then opened her womb again -- five more times.

Consider the nature of Chanah's praying -- to an outsider like Eli, she appeared intoxicated.  Why would intense, soul-reaching
prayer look so demeaning?  Or, perhaps, it was not that it appeared so immoral, but that it was so uncommon to see such
unrestraint in prayer that in all of Eli's frame of reference, drunkenness was its closest relative.  Chanah was praying in such a
way that she was able to reach G-D by speaking to her own heart -- at the expense of appearing pious, restrained or normal.

In times of anguish and distress, we tend to drown ourselves with extra-fleshly devices.  Food, drink, entertainment, drugs, sex,
maybe even our jobs or "the ministry" -- we allow ourselves to be consumed by things that do not solve our problems but mask
them... but only for a time.  Look again at Chanah.
Instead of pouring wine and liquor down her throat to deaden the effects of
her depression she turned to Adonai and poured out the depths of her being to Him.
Our answer is never to fill ouselves up
with that which does harm and does not heal, but to empty ourselves before Adonai, that he may restore our souls.

when we are depressed, anguished, distressed ... we must abandon ourselves to Adonai.  To clear out what is inside, we must go
deep to meet our grief there, and then, from the depth of our pain, pour it out before Adonai.  We take not into account our
appearance -- to others; but especially to ourselves -- and offer a prayer to Adonai that He will remember ....

Father; teach me to abandon myself to You; to empty myself to you, to pour out my heart before You.  Show me that no
obstacle or hindrance in my limited wisdom is a true barrier to You -- not how I look, how I act, what I say, but hear the
words from the depth of my innermost being....

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