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Jewish Prayers: The Prayer of Hannah

The book of Samuel I begins with the story of the Prophet Samuel's mother, Hannah. In those days, before the Temple in Jerusalem was built, the center of the Jewish world was the city of Shilo, where the Tabernacle stood. Three times a year, Jews would travel to the Tabernacle to bring sacrifices and to pray. Hannah and her husband, Elkanah; Elkanah's other wife, Peninah; and Peninah's children would make the trip to Shilo. Peninah had many children, but Hannah had none and she desperately wanted a child.

One day Hannah made the following vow, "O HaShem of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thy handmaid, and remember me, and not forget Thy handmaid, but wilt give unto Thy handmaid a man-child, then I will give him unto HaShem all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head" (Samuel I 1:9-13).

"For Hannah, having a child was the ultimate expression of her relationship with God," according to Holly Pavlov, author of Mirrors of Our Lives- Reflections of Women in Tanach. "It was as a mother, she felt, that she could serve God best. Therefore, her bitterness was a spiritual distress, an expression of spiritual loss. This prayer, then, was not merely about her own needs, but about her ability to serve God."

"And it came to pass, when the time was come about, that Hannah conceived, and bore a son; and she called his name Samuel: 'because I have asked him of HaShem'" (Samuel I 1:20).

Thousands of women come from all over the world to Shilo each year to pray where Hannah prayed.

Sources: Shilo