Prayer of the Whirlwind and of the Driven Leaf

“Improvisation is the only artform in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time. It is the hidden things, the subconscious, that lets you know you feel this, you play this.” – jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman. A very long time ago, davveners held no prayer books. They hadn’t been… Read more »

The Prayer of Every Mouth

As noted in last week’s post, the Amidah’s final petitionary prayer concludes שומע תפילה/shome’a tefillah, “Blessed is God who hears prayer,” an affirmation that God can be conceived of as an infinitely absorbent ear for our prayers. Although we often describe private prayer as the “silent” Amidah, this is slightly inaccurate. The Hebrew term is… Read more »

Whispering in the Cosmic Ear

The Amidah’s final petition, in the 16th paragraph, concludes שומע תפילה/shome’a tefillah, “Blessed is God who hears prayer.” Oh, really now? How fortunate. In subsequent posts I will take up the language of this paragraph and try to explain it in ways that I hope enhance davvening. For this post, I want to consider the… Read more »

Farewell to Sacred Paper

Our long-awaited construction project at Ansche Chesed is about to begin. Off in the distance we can glimpse our expanded lobby with improved safety and disability access, our renewed social hall, and our comfortable and professional offices. Before we can build, we must demolish. For a century-old building with poor storage space, that means clearing… Read more »

Do You Anticipate Salvation?

Rabbinic lore says that when you pass into the next world, before you can enter paradise, you’re interrogated over a series of questions about your life on earth [Shabbat 31b]. Among them are: Were you honest in business? Did you fix regular times for Torah study? Also on the list is Did you anticipate salvation?… Read more »