web analytics
August 31, 2015 / 16 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

What Is and Isn’t Wrong with Prayer

praying

Over the years I have gone through all sorts of different prayer experiences. And I still find the traditional service meets my “communal” needs. But it is private prayer that satisfies me spiritually. Yet I have always encountered other Jews who disagreed with me. Some preferred the big performance, the big event, the sense of being together, to the modest utilitarian alternatives I tried to recommend. Yet it is right that it should be so. We are not all alike. We have different intellects and tastes and needs. There should be alternatives.

I believe we are living in exciting times. More and more people are willing to experiment. Whereas once this inevitably meant casting off the requirements of tradition, now the trend is to find resolutions without throwing the baby out with bathwater. One of the joys of many Jewish communities where there is a critical mass is that one can shul-crawl on Shabbat to experience a wide range of alternatives and find one that accords with one’s temperament and background.

Despite a common superstructure, services have evolved in response to specific cultural and social circumstances. I believe that more energy should go into trying to find completely new styles of worship than in tinkering with the old. There must, for example, be creative ways in which female spirituality could create totally new atmospheres and experiences without being constricted by established male modes and norms. I approve of choice and, where it is possible, exploring the alternatives in one’s neighborhood.

Regardless of the style of service, or the regularity of one’s attendance, one must, I believe, reestablish the practice of personal prayer outside of synagogual structures. Meditation and contemplation in a totally secular style, or one borrowed from another religion, have brought relief and inspiration to many in the West. But we have our specifically Jewish exercises and meditations. One need look no further than Avraham Abulafia (or in modern times Aryeh Kaplan) to realize such things have been part, albeit a neglected part, of our tradition. We must revive them.

Romantics rely on the experience, the stimulation of beautiful buildings, music, canonicals, and ceremonial to induce a sense of devotion, worship, and spirituality. The classicist works on himself to make it happen. I prefer that, rather than to expect others to do it for me.

About the Author: Jeremy Rosen is an Orthodox rabbi, author, and lecturer, and the congregational rabbi of the Persian Jewish Center of New York. He is best known for advocating an approach to Jewish life that is open to the benefits of modernity and tolerant of individual variations while remaining committed to halacha (Jewish law). His articles and weekly column appear in publications in several countries, including the Jewish Telegraph and the London Jewish News, and he often comments on religious issues on the BBC.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “What Is and Isn’t Wrong with Prayer”

  1. Jonathan Weber says:

    כל הכבוד Thank you! !

  2. I like this song Psalm 118 verse 6 "The stone the builders had rejected,Was chosen as the cornerstone, This marvelous act, most unexpected, The doing is of
    G-d
    alone.This is the day the Lord created.Now let us sing with joyfull tones.Grant us prosperity we pray Thee. O LORD save those who are Thine own."

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Seder at the White House. The one without the kippa is President Obama.
Obama Cashes in on Separating Israel from American Jews’ Concerns
Latest Indepth Stories
Broken Telephone

A nuclear Khomenist Tehran will be a threat to Western democracies and to Jerusalem in particular

Major Monster, "Shirley Temper" looking at the cameraman.

The MONSTERS of Nebi Saleh know well the damning, visceral impact of powerful, deceitful imagery.

Proud Members of Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace openly supports BDS movement against ALL of Israel & ending the Jewish State.

Israel Football Game in Jerusalem; Alex Swieca, Quarterback

In recent years, there has been a big push to grow and develop American Football here in Israel.

Unlike Judaism & Christianity which honors “truth,” Islam pursues “Taqiyya,” strategic lying

Yashar Lachayal’s mission is to learn what IDF soldiers’ need and get it to them when they need it.

Corbyn leading the Britain’s Labour Party polls, describes Hamas & Hizbullah as England’s “friends.”

The convicted murderer was released from Israeli prison with more than two dozen other sociopaths

JCF is a donor/supporter of The New Israel Fund which supports BDS & wants IDF soldiers prosecuted

The ‘Peace Industry’ promotes its adherents; weak leaders, both military & political, is the result

The conundrum for US Labor Zionists: Lobbying for Iran deal while Israel’s Left lobby’s against it.

What does the Torah want from our small nation described as “they who struggle with God & with men”?

Mr. Nadler’s support for the deal is a naked political gift to a president who has defied logic in his quest to reinvent international affairs according to his ideological inclinations.

In practical terms, the proclamation surely makes a compelling argument:

More Articles from Jeremy Rosen
putin napoleon

Obama’s incompetence, the way his naive worldview and credulity have made a fool of him, are equally frightening

Rashid Khalidi

The Ramaz School was wrong to refuse to allow Rashid Khalidi, the Palestinian apologist, to speak to its senior students.

Imagine you take your family somewhere where there is no such thing as a day off.

Pascal’s famous wager was that it makes sense to bet on God.

The Talmud (Eiruvin 96a) mentions that Michal, the daughter of King Saul, wore Tefilin and no one objected.

We’ve known that you can define neither Jews nor Judaism in a way that will satisfy all its various elements.

The religious world needs to fight back constructively.

There is a dichotomy between personal, private prayer and public communal prayer.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/what-is-and-isnt-wrong-with-prayer/2014/01/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: