'Prayer is Itself Divinity'

by Larry Tabick

    We teach people how to say the prayers; we don't teach them how to pray them. Although, there are exceptions (notably Lionel Blue to whom this writer owes a great debt, and some others), this seems to be a pattern in Anglo-Jewry,1 apart perhaps from Hasidic groups. As synagogues and as movements, we offer classes in Hebrew from beginners to advanced, we give seminars in the history and development of the siddur, we lead shiurim on talmudic passages dealing with issues relating to services, and of course, we publish prayerbooks. But I have rarely heard of the colleague who has taught the techniques of prayer beyond the saying of the words and the meanings to be elicited from them, and how they all fit together.
    And yet, prayer is one of the central events of synagogue life, week in, week out, year in, year out. It is an experience so normal, so usual, that we seem to take it for granted. We apparently imagine that people somehow automatically know how to do it, that they don't need lessons in the techniques and practices of prayer. Or even, that prayer cannot be taught, because it is too personal, too individual. In their careers, I suspect that all rabbis have met Jews who find services boring. We make jokes about this, like the one about the man who complained to his rabbi that every time he came to shul the music was always the same.

'Why can't we have some new tunes for a change?'
'So, what is the music that you find so boring?'
'Oh, you know, Ko-ol Nidre-ei.'
    When we Progressive rabbis try to deal with the issue of 'boring' services, or to put it another way, how to maintain kavvanah, concentration, our answer is to change the service as often as possible; Orthodox rabbis seem uninterested in the issue, while many Orthodox congregants solve the problem by talking through services and/or coming late. The answer propounded by generations of kabbalists was to concentrate on other, related matters during prayer, while the response of the Hasidim consisted of making the prayers as personal as possible or losing one's self in them. But for most of us, the problem persists.
    I have a very good friend, a woman I consider one of the most spiritual people I have ever known, who tells me that she finds synagogues among the most unspiritual places she can imagine. She related that she had attended a Friday evening service at a synagogue in one of our movements, was thrilled with what she heard, and afterwards wanted to discuss the service, and the feeling it gave her, with the other people at kiddush. But, she says, they didn't understand her. To them it was just normal. She went to the rabbi to ask why no one wanted to talk about the service. The rabbi replied that that is the way things are, Jews just don't discuss things like that.
    Some people have even told me that it must be some kind of 'Christian thing' to be interested in prayer and the techniques and effects of prayer. The fact is, however, that the Jewish tradition has a wealth of material on this subject, including several classic works entirely devoted to it, like Alexander Susskind's Yesod VeShoresh Ha'Avodah. Nevertheless, what follows is not intended to be an exhaustive study of these sources, but simply a very personal choice of the relevant teachings, ancient, medieval and modern, that I have found useful. Different suggestions may appeal to different people, or to the same person at different times, and indeed many of the suggestions are mutually exclusive in practice.
    In a famous baraita recorded in the Talmud we read:
It has been taught: 'To love GOD your God and to serve [God] with all your heart' (Deuteronomy 11:13). What is the service of the heart? You should say that it is prayer.2
    Now, in the biblical and rabbinic view, the heart was conceived of as the seat of the mind,3 rather than the emotions, as in modern popular thought. So, what the baraita is talking about is the use of the mind in prayer, and, as is well known, this is what is meant by kavvanah, intention or concentration, the focusing of the mind during prayer.
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Preparation for prayer

    Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787-1859) taught that one 'who is about to pray should learn from a common labourer, who sometimes takes a whole day to prepare for a job.'4 Preparation for prayer is essential if prayer is to become more than a mechanical recitation, and time must be given to it.
    Paradoxically, prayer itself may be a good way to prepare for prayer. There is a story of a Hasidic rebbe who was asked what he did before he prayed, and he replied 'I pray that I may be able to pray.'5 Another approach may be to pray a personal prayer before the service proper, a prayer that expresses some concern that you may feel, or that seeks personal purification, or that offers up one's self, or even the parts of one's self that one is ashamed of, to God.6
    Other preparation techniques may involve 'centring,' the calming and focusing of the mind before the formal set service. One suggestion is to use the prayer Elohai Neshamah from the morning service as a breath meditation. This is based on the fact that in Hebrew the words for soul (neshamah) and breath (neshimah) are closely connected, and indeed in Biblical Hebrew neshamah can mean both or either. Careful examination of this prayer reveals that a rather high proportion of words end with the letter hay with a dot (mappiq) in it. This letter should, strictly speaking, be pronounced as a consonant. If this is done during Elohai Neshamah the result is a series of breaths and exhalations which can help 'centre' the worshipper.7
    Another centring technique involves the use of the Tetragrammaton, the unpronounced name of God, the name that is so holy we never say it properly, but substitute the name ADO_NAI for it. But the consonants of the original name, yod-hay-vav-hay, may also be related to the breath, since the sound of the letter hay is the sound of the lungs exhaling. Try thinking of the letter yod while your lungs are empty, then, as you fill them, imagine the first letter hay. Then hold that breath for a few seconds while thinking of the letter vav and imagining the oxygen spreading throughout your body, which itself is in the shape of a vav. Then exhale slowly while meditating of the second hay. Try this several times before prayer. Breathe deeply, using your stomach, but don't take in or expel too much air.8
    Alternatively, simply meditate on the Tetragrammaton itself. Scholars agree that it comes from the Hebrew root meaning 'to be, exist,' but disagree as to whether it means 'the One who is' (and hence, 'the Eternal') or 'the One who causes existence.' Never mind. Use either idea, or both, in your meditation. And to help you focus on this holy name, you might wish to purchase, or make, a Shiviti: either a picture for your wall (for when you pray at home) or a card (that may be kept in your prayerbook) which has as its central feature the four-letter name in the verse: Shiviti YH_VH (ADO_NAI) lenegdi tamid, 'I keep GOD before me always' (Psalm 16:8), with the Tetragrammaton written especially large.9
    Another friend of mine is a great fan of the Psalms. He says that everything he is feeling is already there, waiting for him to use it to express himself. Some prayerbooks include all or some of the psalms, or one could keep a book of psalms near ones prayerbook so that one can use one or two as a warm-up for the service. The psalms have many different themes, of course, and many people have their own favourites, but mine are: Psalm 23 when I feel the need for guidance or support, Psalm 30 when I am depressed, Psalm 51 when I am conscious of having sinned.10
    Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav offered useful advice on how to read the Psalms:

On the subject of reciting Psalms: [Rabbi Nachman] spoke with one person and told him that the essence of the recitation of the Psalms is to say all the poems of the Psalms about oneself, to find oneself in the midst of each and every psalm. The other asked him...: 'How?' And our teacher...explained it to him briefly. For all the wars about which King David--peace be upon him--asked for God--may God be blessed--to give him victory--all must be interpreted about oneself with regard to the war against the inclination towards evil, and its cohorts. And similarly with the rest of the psalms.... Then he asked him: How can interpret about oneself the verse in which King David...praises himself, like, for example: 'Preserve my life, for I am pious' (Psalm 86:3)? He replied: This too must be interpreted with regard to oneself, for [people] must judge themselves on the side of merit, and find in themselves some merit or good point. For in the aspect of this good point is the aspect of [being] pious, etc....11
    Yet another technique is to sing a wordless niggun, or melody. Some smaller communities do this from time to time, but even if yours doesn't, humming a tune quietly to yourself before the service starts may also help to concentrate the mind.
    Alternatively, the RSGB's siddur Forms of Prayer and the ULPS' Siddur Lev Chadash provide meditations for use before prayer.
    While discussing this article with someone recently, my listener asked: 'How can you engage in meditation with all those people around?' For most of us, prayer involves being in synagogue or in some other social situation, such as a shiva or the like. And there is no doubt that the presence of others can be distracting. But it can also be reinforcing, depending on the attitudes of the others, and of oneself. So why not use the presence of others as part of your meditation before prayer? After all, most Jewish prayers are in the first person plural, 'we, us, our,' rather than 'I, me, my.' When we pray in Judaism we pray for our entire people, not just for ourselves. Hence, some prayerbooks suggest that formulae like the following be recited before before the morning service:
Behold I am taking upon myself the positive commandment 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself' and I love everyone of Israel with all my soul, with all my heart and with all my might.12
Another teacher suggests that as we do this, we should
...Mentally love every individual in Israel, in order to raise one's prayer in conjunction with all the others.13
    My own view is that the world is too small to restrict this meditation to Jews, and therefore, I prefer a simpler, but wider, form, like the one found in the prayerbook of the American Conservative movement:
I hereby accept the obligation of fulfilling my Creator's mitzvah in the Torah: Love your neighbour as yourself.14
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The Service Itself

    It may seem rather obvious, but the first suggestion for making the synagogue service itself more meaningful is to concentrate on the meaning of the words you are saying. Obvious, but often forgotten, because the words soon become familiar with frequent repetition, so one has to remind oneself to concentrate on their meanings.
    There are probably many ways of doing this, but try identifying yourself with the prayers, asking yourself: What does this mean to me today? If you do this, you may find that prayers that have become over-familiar will speak to you in new and very relevant ways, addressing the core problems of your life, your hopes and fears, your joys and woes. Alternatively, just allow the prayers to enter your consciousness as they go by, as it were. In either case, if you find that you are staying with a particular passage while the congregation has moved on, do not let it trouble you. You can always catch up later. What you have found may be more important for you at that moment.15
    At one level, prayer is a personal conversation with God. Real conversations, as opposed to arguments and polemics, take place when the participants are open and listening to each other. Communal prayer might seem to stifle this openness, but try to 'aim' your prayer at the One to Whom they are addressed. In other words, fix your mind on God, however conceived in your mind, whether beyond or within you, as you say the words our tradition has laid down for this conversation.
    A time-honoured method for doing this is to focus on names of God, in one of several possible ways. One is to focus on the divine names as one says them during the course of the service. The Shulchan 'Aruch, the classic law code of Judaism, written in the sixteenth century by Joseph Karo, a halachist and kabbalist of Safed, suggests that in particular one should concentrate on occurrences of only two names, the most common and important of all:
One should concentrate during the recitation of blessings on the meaning of the words. When one mentions the [four-letter divine] name, one should concentrate on the meaning of what is read [i.e. the word ADO_NAI, namely] on [divine] rule, since [God] is ruler of all, and one should concentrate on what is written, on the yod-hay[-vav-hay], for [God] was, is, and will be. And when one mentions [the word] 'elohim ('God') one should concentrate on [the fact] that [God] is mighty, the master of possibilities, and of all powers.16
Karo suggests that we bear in mind the fact that the Tetragrammaton has, as it were, two aspects: the hidden and the revealed. The hidden is represented by the unpronounced letters yod-hay-vav-hay ('what is written'), related to the verb hayah, to be, while the revealed is represented by the name we actually say, ADO_NAI, ('what is read') with its connotations of divine rule. ('Adon means 'lord,' of course.) Moreover, rabbinic and kabbalistic tradition regularly assumes the divine name 'elohim ('God') represents God's might, while the Tetragrammaton indicates divine love.
    However, it is clear that concentrating on all occurrences of these divine names can be mentally very taxing. So, for example, the school of the Hasidic master Pinchas of Koretz limits the application of this teaching to one occurrence of the Tetragrammaton.
In certain books, concerning the [statement] written in the Shulchan 'Aruch that one ought to concentrate when saying the four-letter divine name [on the fact that God is] ruler of all, who was, is, and will be, they say that it is difficult to concentrate on this every time one mentions this name. Therefore, [concentrating on it] once is sufficient....17
Or use a Shiviti-card, as described above, with the Tetragrammaton showing over the top of the page of your siddur, so you can look at it from time to time during the service. This method is recommended by the commentary on the Shulchan 'Aruch known as Sha'arei Teshuvah by Hayyim Mordechai Margoliot of Dubnow (d.1818):
I have seen in the writings of my grandfather's cousin, the pious, divine rabbi, our rabbi and teacher, Zalman Lukover--may his memory be a blessing--about [people] who were accustomed to draw candelabra on a piece of parchment to place inside prayerbooks. Written on them were [the words] Shiviti ADO_NAI [with] the four-letter name, [and] other [divine] names, and the candelabra is known by the name Shiviti. And the purpose is that one should remember not to engage in frivolous conversation during prayer out of reverence for the [divine] name which is before one's eyes.18
Yet another technique, for which a Shiviti-card might be helpful, is one based on a simplified version of the Lurianic kavvanot. Although, as we have seen, the original meaning of the term kavvanah was intention or concentration, in the kabbalistic school originating from the teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), the Ari, of Safed, the kavvanot became a highly elaborate system of meditation to accompany prayer, with detailed instructions for keeping in mind the interactions thought to take place in the spiritual worlds while one recites the text in the siddur. Needless to relate, this is an extremely difficult technique to master, and is rarely attempted even by many kabbalists.19 However, it is possible for non-specialists to utilize some of the Lurianic or kabbalistic techniques, at least in outline form, during the morning service.
    One of the mystical concepts that assumed great importance in the Lurianic scheme was that of the four worlds, or levels of existence. These, in ascending order, are:
The World of 'Asiyah, Making; this is usually understood as including the physical world we inhabit.
The World of Yetzirah, Formation; the domain of the angels.
The World of Beriah, Creation; the world of the Divine Throne.
The World of 'Atzilut, Emanation; the world of the pure divine essence.
These 'worlds' are not successive in time, nor thought of only in a hierarchy; they are simultaneous, and may be understood as sheathed within each other, with 'Atzilut innermost. At a personal level, they may be said to represent the four levels of human existence: body, emotions, mind, and spirit, respectively.20 And each of these levels may be represented by the letters of the Tetragrammaton.21
    Utilizing these concepts, many kabbalists have viewed the Morning Service as an 'ascent' through the worlds as one precedes to the 'Amidah, followed by a swifter 'descent' during which one retains the 'lessons' of one's spiritual journey and 'draws down' spiritual blessings from above. This way of looking at Shacharit is a commonplace in kabbalistic prayerbooks and meditational guidebooks, though not always so simply stated. The following passage from the writings of Hayyim Vital (1542-1620) is unrepresentative in style, but typical in its thinking:
We will now explain the basic principles that exist within the order of the repair (tikkun) [to be accomplished during] the morning service. Know that from the beginning of the prayer up to Baruch She'Amar is the World of 'Asiyah. From Baruch She'Amar up to Yotzer 'Or is the World of Yetzirah. From Yotzer 'Or up to the end of the 'Avot is the World of Beriah, while the rest of the 'Amidah is the World of 'Atzilut.22
(In Vital's scheme, which he says he learned from his teacher Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), the Ari, the 'Avot, the first paragraph of the 'Amidah, is a transitional stage between the two highest worlds. Following other kabbalists,23 I prefer to see it as part of the World of 'Atzilut.)
    I find that this meditation may be facilitated by keeping each of the four letters of the divine name in mind as one 'ascends' and then all visualizing all four letters together as one 'descends.' However, it is important not to loose the plain meaning of the prayers when using this technique; otherwise, there is a danger of losing touch with the service itself, and with reality. To help with this method, here is a chart to use as a guide:24
Stage 'World' Level Letter(s)
Morning Prayers & blessings 'Asiyah /Making Body the last hay
Pesukei deZimra
   'Verses of Song'
Yetzirah/Formation Emotions vav
Shema & her blessings Beriah/Creation Mind the first hay
Amidah or Tefillah 'Atzilut/Emanation Spirit yod
Torah service Beriah/Creation Mind yod-hay-vav-hay
Concluding prayers Beriah/Creation Mind yod-hay-vav-hay

    For those who prefer visualizations, Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776) recommended that one imagine oneself proceeding through the various courts of the Temple in Jerusalem.25 Or you may prefer to think of it as proceeding through a palace in order to appear before the Sovereign. (The Hebrew word heichal can mean either 'temple' or 'palace.')
    Of course, the Afternoon and Evening Service do not have this entire structure, though both include the 'Amidah. One may then utilize the notion put forward by the Spanish kabbalist Joseph Gikatilla (1248-1325) that this sequence of blessings may be thought of as a ladder26 'reaching up to heaven,' a ladder whose goal, whose highest rung, is peace.

For an addendum dealing with meditations for the start and end of Shabbat, click here.
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After prayer

    It has been said that the time after Shabbat goes out on Saturday night should be used wisely, not frivolously, so as to avoid 'falling from a high roof into a deep pit.' The same point may be made about prayer: that all the good work achieved during the prayer itself may be lost if one 'descends' immediately and totally to mundane, practical tasks. Of course, in the nature of things, such tasks must be done, but in order to keep the lessons of the prayer-experience alive beyond the prayers themselves one may employ one of two types of techniques, or both. The first is to take some time after formal prayer for personal supplications or meditations or some other 'transitional' activity before resuming the mundane tasks; the second is to try to continue to prayerful mood into the tasks themselves. (Of course, it is possible to do both in succession.)
    Among the suggestions for 'transitions' between prayer and mundane tasks is, traditionally, Torah study, meaning Jewish study of some kind. This could be anything from a daf yomi, a 'daily page' of Talmud, to a selection from an anthology like the one at the back of the RSGB's Forms of Prayer, or some other text of one's own choosing.
    Many of the suggestions given above for meditations before prayer could also be used afterwards: praying one's own private prayer, reciting psalms, 'centring' techniques using breathing exercises, using your Shiviti-card to concentrate on the Tetragrammaton for a few moments, etc. (These can also be used during the course of the day, whenever a few quiet moments become available between other things, or when doing repetitive work or other activities which do not occupy one's entire mind.)
    As Lionel Blue has often pointed out, one of the things we rarely do is listen for answers to our prayers. We spend so much time talking to God, and so little time listening. The answers may not come in voices or even in words, but in internal changes of attitude, perhaps, to whatever is concerning us.
    The Shiviti-technique can ultimately serve as a permanent meditation, that can be undertaken no matter what else one is doing, and as such has been all but enshrined in Jewish law:
'I keep GOD (ADO_NAI) before me always' (Psalm 16:8). This is a great principle of the Torah and among the virtues of the righteous who walk before God....27

'I keep GOD (ADO_NAI).... ' For one should picture the Tetragrammaton before one's eyes..... This is the mystical explanation of 'I keep GOD before me always' (Psalm 16:8). This is of great advantage in the matter of the awe [of God, according to] the Ari of blessed memory.28

No one pretends that this is easy, of course, but it is not impossible.
    Another permanent meditation that can be used until one's next prayer service is a kind of mantra meditation in which a word or a phrase is repeated over and over again, out loud or in thought, throughout the day. For this purpose, almost any word or phrase will do. My own preference is for finding one's 'own' verse in the Psalms or the prayerbook, a verse that speaks to you or that relates to a problem you are facing. I usually use a verse that addresses God or oneself in the second person, and which expresses something that I need to keep in mind throughout the day.
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Further thoughts

    It is obvious, of course, that whatever techniques one may chose to employ, concentration and personal involvement are absolute essentials. This is the point of innumerable kabbalistic and hasidic teachings and stories, like the following: This is what Rabbi Simchah Bunam said concerning the verse in the psalm:
'And I am prayer' (Psalm 109:4): 'It is as if a poor man, who has not eaten in three days and whose clothes are in rags, should appear before the king. Is there any need for him to say what he wants? That is how David faced God--he was the prayer.'29
    If concentration and involvement are to be achieved, then it is clear that their opposite, boredom, has to be avoided. Hence the saying: 'Do not make your prayer a fixed, formal thing (qeva') but a plea for mercy and a supplication before God' (Avot 3:18). Qeva' is the opposite, the enemy, of kavvanah.
    One way of avoiding qeva' is search out and create new techniques of prayer for oneself. The Hasidei Ashkenaz, the pietists of medieval Germany, expressed this idea very succinctly with their slogan: 'A person should always be subtle in the fear [of God]....'30
    We should be wary, however, of expecting mystical experience to flow from the deepening of our prayer life in ways that I have outlined here. Human nature being what it is, we may fall short of our spiritual goals from time to time, and then the best advice seems to be to persevere in prayer, but not to push ourselves beyond what we feel ourselves to be capable of at that moment. Said the Ba'al Shem Tov:
Even though one is unable to pray with attachment (devekut) at the beginning of the prayer, one should nevertheless say the words with great concentration (kavannah), and strengthen oneself little by little, until the Blessed God helps one to pray with great attachment.31
    Pinchas of Koretz also offered sound advice on this point:
In the name of the Rav [Pinchas of Koretz]: He strongly urged that one should not drive oneself [in prayer] with the intention of attaining to the holy spirit, but should serve [God] in simplicity. And if one should be worthy of attaining it, it will come of itself. Then he--may his memory be a blessing--told a story about a certain [person] who had prayed in order to attain to the holy spirit. But the prayer created a barrier, so he attained the spirit without the holiness....
Furthermore, [someone] said in the name of the Rav that this is the explanation of the verse: 'Jacob went on his way [and the angels of God met him]' (Genesis 32:2), but he did not seek this [meeting].32
    The Hasidim 'recycled' the kabbalistic notions of 'smallness' and 'greatness' (qatnut and gadlut) and applied them to psychological states. We might call them spiritual 'highs and lows.' They saw this as the natural consequence of the soul having to live within a body, but also argued that we have to experience the spiritual 'lows' if we are to experience the spiritual 'highs.' Without this natural rhythm, without the ebb and flow of divine vitality within us, we experience an emotionally grey universe.
From the Ba'al Shem Tov (c.1700-1760) of blessed memory, on the subject of [the verse]: 'the creatures (CHaYYOT) ran and returned' (Ezekiel 1:14)--for after the soul (neshamah) is hewn from a holy place, it is fitting that it should be continually enflamed for the place from which it was hewn [on the one hand], and lest it should be annihilated from existence [on the other]. Therefore, it is surrounded with matter, so that it may also do physical things, like eating and drinking, buying and selling, and the like, rather than leading a life of constant service to the blessed God, through the mystical concept of repair (tikkun) and the [permanent] establishment of the soul. Thus, even at the levels of the sefirot, 'smallness' and 'greatness' (qatnut and gadlut) exist, through [the mystery of the phrase]: 'the vitality (CHiYYUT) ran and returned.' For a permanent pleasure becomes natural [ordinary] and is no pleasure. Therefore a person may ascend and descend in the service of the blessed God, so that one might have pleasure, which is the essence of the service of the blessed God. Hence it says: 'This is the law of the burnt-offering ('olah)' (Leviticus 6:2), for the diminution [that occurs] when one's perfect service does not ascend ('olah), and one is troubled by this, this is the aim of ascent, for one will experience even greater pleasure afterwards.33
    Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs has pointed out that the modern Hasidic movement elevated prayer over all other religious duties, including Torah-study.34 My own personal view is that for many people today the synagogue service, and thus prayer, is their only or primary means of exposure to Judaism. The plethora of Jewish books being published seem to go largely unread by the masses of our community. Prayer, therefore, has, by default, become elevated over all other religious duties in modern Judaism, as it had in Hasidism, and possibly for some of the same reasons. Perhaps we need to be reminded of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz' teaching on the supreme importance of prayer, and the personal nature of prayer at its deepest level:
The Torah is a bride's ornament. Therefore, one may explain it to others. But prayer is itself divinity as Scripture says: '[God] is your praise and is your God,' (Deuteronomy 10:21) [so that each person receives] in accordance with what is deemed appropriate by God. '[Her husband is] known in the gates (she'arim)' (Proverbs 31:23)--'[The Holy Blessed One is known and cleaves to each person] according to the measure (sha'ar) of their understanding' (Zohar I, 103b). Therefore, one is unable to explain it [prayer] to others.35
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For further reading (in English):
    Yitzhak Buxbaum, Jewish Spiritual Practices London: Jason Aronson, 1990. 757pp.
    Aryeh Kaplan, Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide New York: Schocken, 1985. 165pp.
    Aryeh Kaplan, Meditation and Kabbalah York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1982. 355pp.

1. (Rabbi) Chaim Ingram, Minister-Chazan, Central Synagogue, Sydney, Australia (formerly of Leicester) attributed the decline in the use of the Singer's prayerbook in favour of the ArtScroll siddurim to the fact that the new edition of Singer's does not include tips for how to pray, whereas the ArtScroll does. But he was referring to ritual actions like when to kiss the tzitzit, which prayers to omit when arriving late to shul, etc. 'Why the ArtScroll has overtaken Singer's,' Letter to the editor; Jewish Chronicle, 27 January 1995, p.23. Progressive rabbis, faced with services that do not seem to speak to their congregations respond with ideas for changing the words.
2. Ta'anit 2a.
3. See the definitions of lev and levav offered in Brown, Driver & Briggs, Hebrew & English Lexicon of the Old Testament and Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumim....
4. Quoted in the RSGB's Forms of Prayer, p.2.
5. Ibid., p.1.
6. Based on the teachings of Lionel Blue.
7. I believe that this teaching emanates from Rabbi Levi Kelman, now of Jerusalem; but cf. Bereshit Rabbah 14:9.
8. I learned this technique from Arthur Waskow & Phyllis Berman; it is taught in the chavurot of the Pnei Or Fellowship in the U.S.A. & the U.K.
9. Such Shivitis can be purchased in many Jewish book shops, either as pictures for the wall or as laminated cards. Some traditional Sephardi siddurim have a Shiviti page. Alternatively, this writer has designed a much simplified version, with both Hebrew and English, for insertion in prayerbooks.
10. A list of helpful psalms by subject can be found in: Yitzhak Buxbaum, Jewish Spiritual Practices (London: Jason Aronson, 1990), pp.366-367. The RSGB siddur Forms of Prayer precedes its selection of Psalms with a list of their themes.
11. From Liqqutei Moharan, II, 125.
12. Jacob Koppel of Mezritch, Siddur Kol Ya'akov (Slavita, 1804), v.1, page 37b.
13. Raphael Emanuel Ben Avraham Hai Ricchi (1688-1743), Mishnat Hasidim, Massechet Tefillat Ha'Asiyah 1:2 (Brooklyn, New York: Moses Blum, 1975), fol.51a; cf. also Alexander Susskind, Yesod VeShoresh Ha'Avodah (Jerusalem: 1978), Gate 1, chapter 7 and Jacob ben Hayyim Zemach (died after 1665), Nagid Umetzaveh (Jerusalem: 1965), p.40.
14. Jules Harlow (ed.), Siddur Sim Shalom (New York: Rabbinical Assembly & United Synagogue of America, 1985), p.11.
15. I first heard this from Rabbi Lionel Blue, but subsequently from a Hasidic rabbi as well.
16. Shulchan 'Aruch, 'Orach Hayyim 5:1; cf. also Jacob Hayyim Tzemach, Nagid Umetzaveh, (Jerusalem: 1965), p.17.
17. From the school of R. Pinchas of Koretz (1726-1791), Ms 803759 in Jewish National & University Library, fol.113b-114a.
18. Sha'arei Teshuvah on Shulchan 'Aruch, 'Orach Hayyim 1:1, n.3. 19. For a description of a community devoted to the use of the Lurianic kavvanot, see Ariel Bension, The Zohar in Moslem and Christian Spain (London, 1932).
20. For a spiritual discussion of the concept of the Four Worlds cf. Adin Steinsaltz, The Thirteen Petalled Rose (New York: Basic Books, 1980), pp.3-34.
21. Israel Shabtai Ratner, Le'Or HaKabbalah (Tel Aviv: Abraham Zioni, 1961), p.136.
22. Hayyim Vital, Sha'ar HaKavvanot (Jerusalem: Yeshivat Kol Yehudah, 1985), v.I, p.77-78; cf. Peri 'Etz Hayyim (Jerusalem, 1980), pp.14-15.
23. cf. Jacob Koppel ben Moshe of Mezritch (died c.1740), Siddur Kol Ya'akov (Slavita, 1804), v.I, p.71ff.
24. Unfortunately, while the new ULPS prayerbook Siddur Lev Chadash does observe the traditional divisions of the morning service, the current RSGB siddur and machzorim do not keep the Morning Blessings & Prayers and the Pesukei deZimra distinct. I usually get around this by visualizing the letters yod-hay during the opening section before the Barechu. (From this point onwards, the divisions are largely respected.)
25. Jacob Emden, Siddur Bet Ya'akov (Lemberg,1904), passim. Emden gives titles for each part of the service corresponding to the courts and altars of the Temple one would have passed through or by on the way to the Holy of Holies.
26. Joseph Gikatilla (1248-1325), Sha'arei 'Orah (ed. by Joseph Ben-Shlomo) (Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1970), v.II, p.90; translated by Avi Weinstein as Gates of Light-Sha'arei Orah (New York: Harper Collins, 1994), p.333.
27. Moses Isserles (c.1530-1572), HaMappah on Shulchan 'Aruch, 'Orach Hayyim 1:1.
28. Abraham Abele Gumbiner (1637-1683), Be'er Hetev on Shulchan 'Aruch, 'Orach Hayyim 1:1.
29. Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim (New York: Schocken, 1948), v.2, p.253.
30. cf. for example, Elazar ben Judah of Worms (c.1160-1237), Sefer Sodei Razaya MiBa'al Sefer HaRoqeach (Shalom HaKohen Weiss, ed.) (Jerusalem: Sha'arei Ziv Institute, 1991), p.7.
31. Zva'at HaRibash (Brooklyn: Kehot Publishing Society, 1975), para.31, p.10.
32. Ms 803759 in Hebrew University Library, fol.185b.
33. Keter Shem Tov (Brooklyn: Kehot Publication Society, 1972), pt.1, para.121, p.16a.
34. Louis Jacobs, Hasidic Prayer (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972), pp.17ff.
35. Joshua Abraham berabbi Israel of Zhitomir (ed.), Ge'ullat Yisra'el (Amsterdam (sic! probably Ostrog), 1821), pt.1, para.21, p.10b.

Addendum: Meditations to accompany the Friday evening, Erev Shabbat Service

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