The God of David

The Talmud refers to the Amidah as the Shemonah Esreh, or “Eighteen” Blessings. That name works because the prayer has, of course, 19 blessings. What?! My post two weeks ago related the Talmud’s account of Samuel the Humble’s reluctant composition of a curse against heretics. People commonly interpret that story to mean Birkat HaMinim was… Read more »

The Remnant of Our Teachers

After cursing the wicked in the 12th blessing, the Amidah proceeds to praise the saintly in the 13th [cf Megillah 17b]. Do you like that order? Perhaps it would better to set up a vision of the ideal first, and then curse our failures. But in truth, I think this order has its own logic.… Read more »

A Curse Upon the Wicked?

Back to the Amidah! The next blessing can be hard to pray. וְלַמַּלְשִׁינִים אַל תְּהִי תִקְוָה וְכָל הָרִשְׁעָה כְּרֶֽגַע תֹּאבֵד וְכָל אֹיְבֶֽיךָ מְהֵרָה יִכָּרֵֽתוּ וְהַזֵּדִים מְהֵרָה תְעַקֵּר וּתְשַׁבֵּר וּתְמַגֵּר וְתַכְנִֽיעַ בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵֽינוּ: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ’הֹוָה שׁוֹבֵר אֹיְ֒בִים וּמַכְנִֽיעַ זֵדִים: U’lemalshinim al tehi tikva, u’khol harisha k’rega toved. V’khol oyvekha mehera yikaretu. V’ha’zedim mehera te’aker. u’teshaber… Read more »

“Bless God, Good and Beneficent”

Long ago, in the BC era – Before Covid – I wrote “Tefillah Tuesday” reflections which I hope helped deepen people’s experience of davvening our shared prayer book. But then some other stuff happened, so in March I stopped writing these weekly short essays. I’d like to resume now, in the same spirit which has… Read more »

Sweet and Kosher Pesach

Dear Friends, Typically at this time of year, we wish each other a חג כשר ושמח, a “sweet and kosher Pesach.” (The snarky and witty among us sometimes wish others a חג כשר או שמח “sweet or kosher Pesach.” But that’s another matter.) This year, keeping the mitzvot of Passover and obtaining enough food will not be… Read more »