The Third Ocean

Abraham Joshua Heschel observed that for classical Jewish mystics, the spiritual challenge was “how to pray,” while for liberal Jews, the ideological problem was “what to say.” Teachers in the Reform and Conservative streams tended to interrogate the prayer book’s peshat, or semantic level, to discover what the liturgy said about God, Torah and the… Read more »

The Lord’s Prayer

Merry Christmas eve, everyone and Happy Tefillah Tuesday! As we approach this Christian holiday, I thought it would be nice to say a short word about the intersection of Judaism and Christianity in prayer. John Hick [d. 2012], a Protestant theologian and philosopher of religion, developed the view that our diverse religions are “different human… Read more »

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 »