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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776
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A Very Athletic Religion


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muslims praying

Photo Credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90



I’m looking at this picture of Muslim worshipers on their hands and knees in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ma’ale ha-Zeitim (Ras al Amud) last Friday. In order to prevent riots on Temple Mount, police limited entry to Muslim men over 50, so everyone you see here must be younger. But still, I find the notion of falling down on my hands and knees five times a day both physically demanding and socially awkward.

I can’t stand it when the guy sitting next to me in shul leans too close to my area during davening. In fact, our tradition requires maintaining a bit of open space in front of each person during the Amida—STANDING prayer. I can’t imagine being down on the floor, tight with the guy and the whole shul – what is this Swedish gymnastics?

We do it a few times on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur every year, and it’s very special and inspiring, and I get that this is the way they used to do it in the Temple—once a year, when the High Priest called out the full name of God. But every day? Not happening.

When we do the holy bending on the Days of Awe, I get the submission thing. And I know that Mohammed or someone like him borrowed the falling on the knees thing from the Jews. Nevertheless, if this ever becomes the way we daven all the time, I’ll be davening at home.

Sliman Khader/Flash90

Sliman Khader/Flash90

Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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