Blessed are You Who Graces Humanity With Consciousness

ברוך חונן הדעת/ Barukh honen ha’da’at. “Blessed are You who graces humanity with consciousness.” The weekday Amidah’s first petitionary prayer is a praise of God for our precious mental faculties and a plea for ever more wisdom and learning. Like all the Amidah’s paragraphs it is drawn from biblical verses. Here are two which seem… Read more »

The Flashlight of Love

For today’s Tefillah Tuesday, let’s take a short break from what – the text of the prayers – to why. What should prayer accomplish? I said last week (and often) that I do not really expect prayer to change the world beyond me, but I hope it transforms the world within me. Davvening should reshape… Read more »

Dreaming God’s Dreams

Like any well-organized text, the Amidah comprises three sections: a beginning, middle and end. The first three blessings, considered as expressions of praise, and the final three, expressing gratitude, are the same every single day (besides some small variations around the High Holidays). The middle section varies. On Shabbat and holidays the center of the… Read more »

Leaps Of Faith

Davvening is not only the words we recite. It is also the dance we do. Our swaying motions, and the regimen of when we stand, sit or bow, how we hold our hands, where we look – all these non-verbal elements contribute to our experience of prayer. Ideally, worship should be a whole-body experience, as… Read more »

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

ברוך כבוד ה’ ממקומו/ Barukh Kevod Adonai Mimekomo. “Blessed is the divine Glory, from Its place.” The second phrase in the call-and-response Kedushah comes from Ezekiel 3:12, drawn from the prophet’s vision of God riding a chariot drawn by four-faced glowing angels, with the most awesome visual and auditory pyrotechnics an ancient mind could have… Read more »