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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Why Do We Pray With A Set Text?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

An opinion recorded in the Talmud states that prayers correspond to the daily sacrifices offered in the Temple that are mentioned in this week’s portion (Berachot 26b, Numbers 28:4). It’s been argued that this opinion may be the conceptual base for our standardized prayer. Since sacrifices had detailed structure, our prayers also have a set text.

Why should this be? If prayer is an expression of the heart, why is there a uniform text we follow?

Rambam writes that after the destruction of the First Temple and the consequent exile of Jews to Babylonia and Persia, Jews found it difficult to pray spontaneously. Living among people who did not speak Hebrew, a new generation of Jews arose who no longer had the ability to use Hebrew as a means of articulating their inner feelings to the Almighty. Responding to this, Ezra and the Great Assembly introduced precisely formulated prayer (Rambam, Code, Laws of Prayer 1:1).

Here Rambam is arguing that standardization of prayer allows all Jews regardless of background and ability to express themselves and to be equal in the fraternity of prayer since the well-spoken and the least educated recite the same prayers.

Rambam may also be putting forth the idea that with the appearance of standardized prayer, Jews dispersed all over the world were united through a structured formula of praying.

Finally, Rambam echoes the Gemara, which states that Ezra designed the prayer service to correspond to the standard sacrificial service offered in the Temple. In following this view, Rambam may be suggesting that after the destruction of the First Temple the rabbis sought to promote religious procedures that would link Jews living after the First Temple era with those who’d lived during the time of the Temple. Elements of the Temple service were therefore repeated in some form in order to bind Jews to their glorious past.

The halacha indicates that structure should inspire spontaneity in prayer, but Rambam’s analysis reveals the importance of standardization. Through the set text all Jews are democratized. No matter our station in life, we all say the same words. And through standardization of text Jews scattered throughout the world are reminded to feel a sense of deep unity with their brothers and sisters everywhere and with their people throughout history.

Prayer helps bring about a horizontal and vertical unification of our people, a unification so desperately needed today.

Comparative Religion Studies

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Today’s class will be a quick one.

In the top half of the photo, we observe hundreds of religious Muslim women on the Temple Mount, cursing at Jews, and praising the kidnapping of 3 Jewish boys.

In the bottom half of the photo, we observe hundreds of Jewish women at the Kotel, crying and praying to God for the safe return of the 3 kidnapped boys.

If you understand the difference, give yourself an ‘A’.

Class dismissed.

Kabbalist Rabbi Yaakov Adas Hospitalized After Week Long Fast for Kidnapped Boys

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Rabbi Yakov Adas, a Jerusalem Kabbalist, was hospitalized on Friday afternoon at Sha’ari Tzedek hospital, after collapsing, according to a report on Hadarei Hadarim.

The Rabbi has been fasting and praying all week long, ever since learning about the kidnapped boys, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frankel.

The Rabbi was suffering from dehydration. His condition is now stable.

White House Statement, Finally, on Terror Kidnapping

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

The White House has finally managed to ‘catch up’ on the terrorist kidnapping of three Israeli teens last week — one of whom was also an American citizen.

In a tepid statement posted on the Twitter social networking site, President Barack Obama (at least it appears to have been written by or for the president) said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of 3 Israeli teens who were kidnapped last week. May they be reunited with their sons soon.”

But although the statement was clearly written to be as neutral as possible, a quick glance at the comments posted in response makes it obvious the president is ‘damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.’

A flurry of condemnations followed the statement, including screams of protest about ‘prayers’ (‘Can we leave prayer out of this please. You’re the White House.”) Others demanded to know “What about Palestinian kids???”

Joint Prayer

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Jews and Muslims joined together in prayer on Tuesday, praying for the safe return of three kidnapped Jewish boys. The joint prayer took place near the Jewish settlement of Gva’ot.

NY NCSY, Partners, Launch ‘Virtual Vigil’ of Torah Study, Prayer for Kidnapped Teens

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Jews across Israel and the world are consumed with worry and fear for the lives of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Frenkel, the three boys kidnapped by terrorists in Gush Etzion last week. Since then, the Israel Defense Forces and intelligence establishment has left no stone unturned in their efforts to locate the teens and, with God’s help, return them to their parents unharmed.

But the staff and teens of New York NCSY, based in the Five Towns, felt they needed to do more.

They understood that since its inception, the Jewish nation, when faced with crisis, has grabbed hold of “the tools of their ancestors,” and appealed to God through Torah, tefillah (prayer), and ma’asim tovim (good deeds).

To that end, New York NCSY spearheaded an effort to bring together NCSY regions throughout the country, the Orthodox Union’s Department of Community Engagement and Synagogue Services, and in partnership with Bnei Akiva and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), to launch a “Virtual Vigil” – an around-the-clock schedule of learning, prayer, and mitzvot, performed by teens and adults from around the world.

Within 24 hours of launching, over 650 people from around the world had signed up to give their time in creating this Virtual Vigil of Kedusha on behalf of these precious teens.

It is the hope of all involved that through these earnest efforts in the merit of Gilad Michoel ben Bat Galim, Ya’akov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah and Eyal ben Iris Teshura, Hashem will see fit to bring them home safely and quickly.

Individuals interested in participating can go to http://ncsy.org/bring-back-boys/ and fill out a simple form to select a day and a 30-minute slot, and identify which activity they are committing to for that time. You can also view a calendar of taken and available times at http://ncsy.org/bring-back-boys/calendar-times/.

While it is our deepest desire that this campaign will become unnecessary even as it is launched, it is also our intent to continue this project non-stop until our boys are brought home.

The Knesset at Prayer

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Israeli Knesset Members and workers gather for a prayer in the Kneseet for the release of three Jewish boys who were kidnapped a few days ago by Hamas.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/the-knesset-at-prayer/2014/06/17/

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