Share a prayer: Techinas (not the Middle Eastern dip)

Welcome to “Share a Prayer” a quick look at a prayer that is found in our Daily, Shabbat or Holy Day Prayer Service. Often during the course of the service we encounter some real gems that we don’t have time to reflect upon; this will give us an opportunity to select one prayer and take a closer look.

A pristine white tablecloth decked with the finest of dishes and shinning silverware adorns the dining room table. The iridescent glow of waxy white candles set in two lustrous ancient candlesticks reflects in the eyes of your mother as she waves two strong but gentle hands over the flickering yellow flames. After whispering the traditional blessing, a singular tear rolls down her cheek as she silently recites an age-old private Shabbat prayer.

It is quite likely that the private petition that was just offered comes from a collection of Yiddish Prayers for various occasions known as Techinas .Techinas, from the Hebrew word meaning “supplication”, date back to the early 17th century. They were composed specifically to be offered by women who, in many cases were not given the opportunity to learn the Hebrew Prayers recited by men in the synagogue. Rabbi Julian Sinclair of the Jewish Chronicle.com suggests these prayers stem from Yiddish translations of Tachanun – the selections of supplications that are part of the weekday services.

Spiritually, these personal petitions are connected to biblical women who are credited with the most sincere and selfless supplications in the Bible. Hagar, the alienated concubine of Abraham besought God to protect her son Ishmael after they were cast into the dessert. Similarly, Hannah, in the book of Samuel, is recorded to have offered a tearful, silent supplication to the Holy One asking for a child. Incidentally, both were rewarded for their passionate pleas, Hanna became the mother of Samuel the first of the prophets while Hagar was shown a well which sustained her and her young son Ismael.

Rivka Zakutinsky, a noted author and educator living in Brooklyn NY, is the editor of an excellent new collection of Techinas entitled, Techinas A Voice from The Heart. She relates that while numerous collections of Techinas were published, the earliest known book of Techinas entitled, Techinas U’Bakashos (Supplications and Appeals) was printed in Basel Switzerland in 1609. Zakutinsky also notes that the best known author of Techinas was the elusive Sara Bas Tovim who was born sometime in the later part of the 17th Century. A collection of Techinas referencing the weekday prayers, fast days and the High Holydays entitled Sheker Ha Chen, (Charm is Deceitful), a reference to the Eishet Chayil ( a woman of valor) passage from the book of proverbs which is read by a traditional husband to his wife on Friday eve, is attributed to Sara Bas Tovim. Sara also is credited with a collection of these personal supplications relating to commandments specifically directed to women such as lighting candles, separating challah and attending the Mikvah. This work is called Shalosh She’arim (three gates.)

Shas Teḥine Rav Peninim  published in New York in 1916, is another  popular gathering of Techinas. Like many of the collections of Techinas, it contains Techinas to be recited while “the men are at synagogue,” following child birth, for the welfare of family and, over the kindling of Sabbath candles.

A high tech compilation of Techinas, assembled by The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College can be found onlineTechina Prior to Immersion in the Mikveh, is an excellent example of these.

Techinas are so powerful that even our modern-day siddur includes the Techina, Got Fun Avrum (God of Abraham) a soulful supplication said at the immediately following Havdalah  (separation), the prayer that marks the conclusion of Shabbat. There is tradition which attributes this prayer to the great Hassidic Master, Levi Yizchak of Berdichev.Here is the English translation of this text from Siddur Sim Shalom:

“God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, protect Your people Israel in their need, as the holy beloved Shabbes takes its leave. May the good week come to us with health and life, good fortune and blessing, prosperity and dignity, graciousness and loving-kindness, sustenance and success, with all good blessings and with forgiveness of sin.  Omein.”

Here is the Yiddish Text:

gotfunavrum

Got Fun Avrum is so well know that it became the theme of a popular Yiddish Song in titled Zol Noch Zein Shabbis (May it still be Shabbat) by the great composer and arranger of Jewish Music, Sholom Secunda  Here is a video of this melody sung by the one of the greatest and best known Hazzim, Moishe Oysher. The song also contains the text of the prayer as cited above.

Techinas are a rich, meaningful and potent source for personal prayer.  Rivka Zakutinsky best sums up the power of these sacred Yiddish texts:

“[Techinas are] the voice which women have used to approach God and to Serve Him…For God to be present in our most intimate daily experience –to commune with Him in the most private, unstructured moment, and to know that HE is there and ready to answer – therein lies the Blessing.”

I hope you enjoy this brief look at our prayers. If you have a suggestion or question or request, email me at mailto:hazzan@e-hazzan.com or leave a comment below.

Take care,

Hazzan Michael Krausman

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Share a Prayer: Praying in the Vernacular

Welcome to “Share a Prayer” a quick look at a prayer that is found in our Daily, Shabbat or Holy Day Prayer Service. Often during the course of the service we encounter some real gems that we don’t have time to reflect upon; this will give us an opportunity to select one prayer and take a closer look.
In my last post I extolled the vital importance of praying in Hebrew. While it is true that, “for thousands of years Hebrew prayers, such as those drawn from the book of psalms and others, have resonated in our Jewish DNA providing comfort, compassion and inspiration” there is also room in our liturgical service for prayers written in the vernacular. In fact, codified in our Siddur, are prayers, such as the Kaddish that are written in Aramaic, an ancient language that, a one time, was the lingua franca of our people. Similarly, in some traditions, the standard prayers are interleaved with or translated into Ladino or Judeo Espanol – a language spoken by Jews who stem from locations such as the Balkan countries, parts of the Middle East and sections of Europe such as Spain and Portugal. Similarly, there are wonderful very old and brand new prayers written in English and other modern languages, created to supplement and enrich our services.
Aramaic is an archaic  cousin of Hebrew that stems from the ancient Near East. Texts written in Aramaic such as the biblical books of Ezra and Daniel, have been found dating back to the 5th Century B.C.E.  The Talmud, one of the primary texts of Rabbinic law as well as Biblical Translations and the mystical Kabbalistic text known as the Zohar also written in this ancient language, are still studied in their original form today. In our Siddur, the most significant prayer written in Aramaic, is the Kaddish.
Constructed around an ancient Aramaic translation of a passage from the Biblical book of Daniel, “Y’hei Shmei Rabbah m’vorach l’olam ol’olmei al maya….May His Great Name be blessed for ever and ever in to the world to come,” the Kaddish is one of the best know elements of our liturgy. Ismar Elbogen the great scholar of Jewish Liturgy, notes that the great sages of the early rabbinic period attached deep meaning to this biblical phrase and  invoked it at the mention of the Holy Name. Soon this expression began to be used in the context of a formal expression of faith in God’s eternal Kingdom that was customarily uttered at the end of a rabbinic discourse. Although at first, these expressions were improvised by each orator, the formula eventually became the standardized in the form of the Kaddish.
Elbogen notes that the earliest reference to the Kaddish appearing as part of the synagogue liturgy can be found in a Palestinian source dating back to the seventh century. Phrases like, “L‘eila minkol birchata … beyond all blessings, hymns and praises …,” make the Kaddish an ideal vehicle for expressing the greatness and holiness of God.  Similarly, the passage found in the full Kaddish beginning with, “Tikabel Tzlothon … accept our supplications and petitions …” is most meaningful in the context of the service. In the synagogue, the Kaddish serves to separate various  major and minor sections of the service. Thus we find a Half or “HatziKaddish as well as a full Kaddish. There is also a Kaddish D’Rabbanan or “scholar’s Kaddish” which is recited after a selection from rabbinic literature. The mourner’s Kaddish, which is also included at various points during the service, differs from the full Kaddish in that it omits the section asking that our prayers and supplications be acceptable. It is interesting to note that the last stanza of the Kaddish, Oseh Shalom, a petition for peace, is written in Hebrew.
Brich Shemei – “Blessed is the Name,” a prayer said before the ark when the Torah is removed, is another popular prayer written in Aramaic. Taken from the Kabalistic text known as the Zohar (see above) Brich Shemei praises God as master of the universe and asks for Devine favor in granting our prayers and petitions. Rabbi Reuven Hammer, author of Or Hadash, a Comentary on Siddur Sim Shalom points out that the Kabbalistic Mystics maintained that the gates of heaven were opened whenever the Torah was read so they saw  this is as an opportune moment to seek God’s favor.
The conclusion of Brich Shemei begins with the statement, “ Ana Avda D’Kudsha Brich Hu, I am the servant of the Holy One.” We affirm that we place our hope not in any mortal but only in God and the revelation of the Torah.  Bei Ana Racheitz,  “in God we  trust”  the last part of the prayer, is often sung together by the congregation. Here is a wonderful rendition of the Ana Avda D’Kudsha Brich Hu by master Hazzan Aaron Bensoussan taken from his CD, Joyus Chants, recorded with members of the Israeli Philharmonic.

Brich Shemei  is also an example as a prayer expressed in Ladino by many members of the Sephardi tradition in the form of “Bendicho Su Nombre.”  Ladino, like Yiddish its Ashkenazi counterpart, is enhanced by Hebrew expressions as well as by local phrases and idioms. There is a rich culture of music and poetry written in Judeo Espanol which still can be heard in many countries throughout the world. This is a link to the text of Bendicho Su Nombrei in Ladino and English published by the Eitz Chaim Sephardic Congregation of Indianapolis. Here is a video of this prayer performed by Hazzan Sylvain Elzam.


Ein Keloheinu, an extremely popular hymn sung at the end of the Shabbat morning service, is often sung in Hebrew with an instantaneous translation into Ladino by many Sephardi congregations. The text of this hymn which according to the Machzor Lev Shalem published by the Rabbinical assembly, dates back to the first millennium expounds on three different ways by which we refer to The Holy One; Our God, Our Lord, Our Sovereign and Our Savior. The mantra like repetition of phrases is typical of prayers of mystical origin. This is a setting of Ein Keloheinu sung by a delightful Turkish group called Los Pasharos Sepharadis.

Many Siddurim (prayer books) contain beautiful and inspirational poetry that, following the ancient tradition of the framers of our liturgy, expounds on the themes and motives of our sacred liturgy. Some of the most noteworthy writers and thinkers and poets of the past few generations have works published within  Siddurim  or in individual volumes  of contemporary prayer. Perhaps one of the most sensitive, compassionate, inspirational and enlightened modern American composers of Jewish Prayer is Rabbi Naomi Levy. One of the first women to be ordained as a Conservative Rabbi, Naomi Levy has written several books including a volume of English  prayers for various occasions called Talking to God .  Here is a heart rending prayer she wrote in response to  the tragedy of 9/11.

The Hebrew core of our traditional liturgy has sustained us throughout history, and around the globe. Yet in each generation, gifted, inspired poets have given voice to their connection with God and the liturgy through the medium of their native tongue. Whether through translating and interpreting the traditional text or by composing new elements of liturgy that speak to their contemporaries, these talented artists have contributed to the ever evolving and growing opus of our sacred liturgy; providing for the worshipper new pathways on which to seek a closer relationship with the Divine.
I hope you enjoy this brief look at our prayers. If you have a suggestion or question or request, email me at mailto:hazzan@e-hazzan.comor leave a comment below.

Take care,

Hazzan Michael Krausman

Share a Prayer: Birchot Ha Shachar – The Preliminary Morning Blessings

Welcome to “Share a Prayer” a quick look at a prayer that is found in our daily, Shabbat or Holyday Prayer Service. Often during the course of the service we encounter some real gems that we don’t have time to reflect upon; this will give us an opportunity to select one prayer and take a closer look.

The public part of each morning prayer service begins with a series of Brachot (Blessings) that reflect our first thoughts and actions of the day. As I have often said, the purpose of a blessing is to connect an action, event, state of being or feeling with God. Thus, just as saying the Motzi prayer connects the act of eating bread with God, the Birchot Ha Shachar enable us to begin each day with an affirmation of the deep connection every aspect of our existence has with the Creator. The additional benefit of reciting this series of Brachot is that it helps the worshipper avoid taking that with which we are blessed for granted.  Joni Mitchell, the popular ’70’s recording artist sang a perfect song to illustrate the danger of this feeling of entitlement or ingratitude, ” don’t it always seem to go they never no what they’ve got ’till it’s gone..” Just as someone who temporarily loses his vision appreciates the gift of slight, any one who has suffered an injury will confirm that the ability to stand and move around freely is certainly something for which to be thankful each day.

Ben Keil author and freelance journalist points out that these Brachot come for two Talmudic  sources; fifteen, mainly expressing gratitude, coming from Tractate Brachot (60b) and three being listed in Tractate Menachot (43b.) At their inception, each of these blessings was intended to be recited by the individual in order of relevance early in the morning. Thus, for example, the blessing for restoring vision to the blind was recited when first opening one’s eyes, while the blessing for clothing the naked was recited prior to getting dressed. Even though some debate ensued, the sages who framed our formal liturgy decided to include these blessings communally in the synagogue service so that people of all comfort levels with the prayers would have an opportunity to express their gratitude together.

Not surprisingly, there is a marked difference in the way in which Conservative and Orthodox Siddurim articulate some of these Brachot. So, while the Orthodox version of the blessing thanking the Lord for not creating the worshipper as a woman, the Conservative version of the prayer thanks God for creating us in God’s image. Similar differences can be found in the Blessings thanking God for not making one a Gentile or a slave. According to some Orthodox commentators, the reason for the negative connotation of the above blessings is that Gentiles, woman and slaves do not have the same opportunities to fulfill Mitzvot (biblical commandments) as Jewish men have.  Rabbi Reuven Hammer , celebrated  scholar in the field of Jewish Liturgy and author of Or Hadash the authoritative commentary on the Sim Shalom Siddur explains that the process by which the changes in the Brachot were derived by the Conservative Rabbis involved consultation of classic Rabbinic texts as well as historic documents found in the Cairo Genizah, an ancient repository of sacred texts. Rabbi Hammer describes the approach of the Conservative Prayer Book in the following manner:

 Siddurim of the Conservative movement, taking their cue from the Tosefta and from the Genizah, use a positive formulation in order to express our feelings of gratitude, while showing sensitivity to others and demonstrating an appreciation of the status of women. We are indeed proud to be Jews, to be free and, above all, to be human beings made in the divine image.

As with almost all blessings, the Birchot Ha Shachar are each introduced by an  ancient formula which has roots dating back to the biblical Book of Chronicles; “Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha Olam – Praised are You Adonai our God, who rules the universe.” This formula serves to underscore the personal nature of our relationship with God as we begin our morning and throughout each day.  Rabbi Meir, one of our greatest sages, taught that we should endeavor to recite 100 blessings every day. Reciting Brachot  enables us to connect every moment of our existence – from the mundane to the miraculous, to the Holy Presence of our Creator.

I hope you enjoy this brief look at our prayers. If you have a suggestion, question or request, email me at hazzan@e-hazzan.com.

 Here is a link to the text in Hebrew and English

Hazzan Michael Krausman

Share A Prayer: In Times of Tragedy

This Post is dedicated to the memory of Andrew Silvershein a 16 year old Ramah Darom Camper who died tragically in a white water rafting accident on Sunday June 19 2011.  Our hearts go out to Andrew’s family and the entire Ramah Darom mishpacha.

Hi

Welcome to “Share a Prayer” a quick look at a prayer that is found in our daily, Shabbat or Holy Day Prayer Service. Often during the course of the service we encounter some real gems that we don’t have time to reflect upon; this will give us an opportunity to select one prayer and take a closer look at it.

Responding to tragic news is one of the most difficult challenges a person can face. What do I say? How do I articulate my feelings? As with so many other situations, Jewish tradition provides the vocabulary to at least begin the conversation. Interestingly, Judaism mandates the following Bracha (Blessing) upon hearing of the death of a dear one:

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha Olam, Dayan Ha Emet: Blessed are You Our God, Ruler of the Universe who is the true Judge.”

At first glance, it may seem strange to utter a blessing at such a heartbreaking moment; why would one possibly think to express gratitude? In fact, the actual purpose of saying any Bracha (Blessing) is to acknowledge and reach out to God’s presence at a particular moment. When we say a blessing over bread, we become cognizant of God’s presence with us as we enjoy the bread God provided. Similarly, in this horrible instance, through uttering a Blessing we seek God’s presence to help us cope with the desperate situation in which we find our loved ones and ourselves. Additionally, by acknowledging God’s righteousness at a time when we might lose our faith, we are reminded that, as Rabbi Harold Kushner has said, “God is on our side, God is not on the side of illness or death.”

There are several other sources of comfort one can turn to at a moment of tragedy. This morning as I was praying, a segment of the Tachanun , a selection of personal petitions and supplications that are inserted in the weekday morning and afternoon service following the Amidah, spoke to me in a unique way. Crafted from verses from various Psalms (see below) the prayer is part of the first section of Tachanun:

“Remember Your compassion Adonai, and Your kindness, for they endure forever. Adonai will answer us in time of trouble;
the God of Jacob will uplift us. Adonai, redeem us – Sovereign, answer us when we call. Avinu Malkeinu [our Parent /our Monarch], respond to us graciously though we lack merit. Be kind to us for Your name’s sake. Hear our pleas; remember the covenant with ancestors and save us for You are merciful.”

As I have mentioned in past writings, for generations, we have turned in times of tribulation to the book of Psalms, a collection of 150 exquisite liturgical poems attributed to the biblical King David. Among the most touching Psalms are Psalm 121, “I turn my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come,” Psalm 130, “… From out of the depths I called You Adonai…” and Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want…”  Rabbi Harold Kushner, to whom I referred above, is the author of an exceptionally insightful and comforting book on Psalm 23 entitled The Lord is My Sheppard.

Psalm 23 is the subject of numerous classical and modern settings. Gam Ki Elech, (click on link to listen) “Even though I pass through the shadow of the valley of death…” is a strikingly powerful setting by Elliot Kranzler, who is both a psychiatrist and a Jewish Recording Artist. This setting is found on his CD Ki Ata Imadi, as well as on a wonderful collection of songs of comfort entitled;  The World is a Narrow Bridge .

Of course texts relating to tragedy are not limited to ancient times. Many modern authors and poets have written meaningful, relevant and poignant prayers. Here is a Prayer by Rabbi Naomi Levy, a gifted and sensitive spiritual leader and author.

A Prayer When a Loved One’s Life Is Cut Short by Tragedy

I can’t believe I will never see your sweet face again. I am shattered. I keep thinking I’ll wake up from this cruel nightmare. But day after day I find myself alone with my pain and my tears. I wish I could make sense of the senselessness of your death. I wish I could understand God’s silence. I wish I could have done something to save you, to protect you from harm. I feel so helpless and so alone. I pray that you are at peace now, far away from this world’s horror. Your life ended in tragedy, but that’s not how I will remember you. I will remember your smile, your wisdom, your touch. I will remember your laughter, your kindness, your generosity, your determination, your love. I know that you wouldn’t want me to sink into despair. You always taught me to live up to the best in myself. And that’s what I will try to do. I will strive to search for the goodness in every soul, and to live up to the goodness inside my own soul.

Levy, Naomi (2007). Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (p. 214). Knopf. Kindle Edition.

Coming to the end of this I find that I still lack the words to express the deep sadness in my soul or my heartfelt sympathy for a family and friends that have suffered a tragic loss. I am, however, somewhat comforted by the fact that my connection to God to the Jewish community and to our sacred tradition gives me a place to start. I pray that those who are personally affected by the horror of a devastating loss will find strength in these connections or at least will somehow find in them the ability to begin the conversation that will lead to a measure of comfort and peace.

Here is a link to the Psalm texts in Hebrew and English.

I hope you enjoy this brief look at our prayers. If you have a suggestion or question or request, email me at cantor@sinaihollywood.org.

Take care,

Hazzan Michael Krausman

Share a Prayer -Prayers for Japan

Hi

Welcome to “Share a Prayer” a quick look at a prayer that is found in our daily, Shabbat or Holy Day Prayer Service. Often during the course of the service we encounter some real gems that we don’t have time to reflect upon; this will give us an opportunity to select one prayer and take a closer look at it.

When ever we are faced with danger, fear or tragedy our first reaction is to turn to God for solace; either directly or through the synagogue. This phenomenon was seen in overwhelming measure after the horrors of 9/11, when people of all faiths flocked to houses of worship for communal support. One of our readers asked me about prayers in response to the horrible disaster which continues to unfold in Japan. Indeed prayer is a most fitting way to try to come to terms with such a tragedy. The energy derived from a community united in prayer can be an extremely powerful source of comfort and support in the face of an incomprehensible catastrophe.

Throughout our history, Jews have dealt with disaster and danger by praying. Perhaps the best source for these prayers is the Book of Psalms*, a collection of 150 exquisite liturgical poems that express the entire range of human emotion and explores many aspects of our relationship with our Creator. In addition to the number of Psalms that are included in our prayer book, there are many more that can be read as a source of comfort and encouragement. Our ancestors also dealt with misfortune such as drought and brutal anti-Semitism by imposing personal and public fasts. These were part of an intense regimen of prayer and study that were intended to stave off or mitigate the dire situation.

On a more personal level there are mandated prayers to be offered to those in need of healing. Each time we read the Torah we offer prayer for healing beginning with the phrase, “Mi Sheberach avoteinu… may the One Who Blessed our ancestors…” Similarly, the Gomel or deliverance prayer is recited by one who has survived an illness or dangerous situation.

Prayer is a dynamic experience – we are never limited to reciting only those prayers which have been codified in our Prayer Book. For generations, personal supplications and petitions have been composed and offered both in the context of the formal services and individually; indeed many of these were later added to the prayer book to become part of the formal liturgy. There is always room in Jewish worship for personal prayers, petitions and supplications that come from the heart.

Some may suggest that God sent this devastation to Japan in the context of some mystical Divine plan which is beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals. However, others such as the phenomenal author and lecturer, Rabbi Harold Kushner, maintain that the world has its own natural order and acts independently according to the laws of nature. Rather than being the source of or “on the side of the Tsunami” God is “on our side,” with us, weeping alongside those of His Children who suffer so deeply.

In that context then, here are links to some of the prayers that have been written or adapted in response to the awful events that have been taking place in Japan. The themes of these petitions are similar; we pray that God will send healing to those who suffer, comfort to those who are bereaved, relief to those who are homeless and strength to those rescuers, first responders and other caregivers who act as God’s hands in this difficult endeavor.

The first example is offered by the UAHC, the movement for Reform Judaism. http://news.reformjudaism.org.uk/press-releases/prayers-for-japan.html

Mechon Hadar, a scholarly institution connected to the independent Minyan movement posted this prayer. http://www.mechonhadar.org/portlet-test/-/asset_publisher/Z3Kb/content/id/1236291?redirect=%2F

Our next prayer was posted by the Metropolitan Region of the United Synagogue. http://metny.uscj.org/2011/03/a-prayer-in-response-to-the-earthquake-and-tsumani/

The fourth prayer was posed on Beliefnet, a multidenominational spiritual community. It was composed by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth in response to other natural disasters, but is equally appropriate here.  http://blog.beliefnet.com/windowsanddoors/2010/01/a-rabbis-prayer-in-response-to.html

Our hearts go out to those unfortunate people who continue to be affected by this horror. Let us all resolve to continue to offer physical as well as spiritual support. If you know of a prayer that has been composed that should be part of this collection, please send me the link and I will share it next time.

*(this is a podcast I did about the Psalms)

I hope you enjoy this brief look at our prayers. If you have a suggestion or question or request, email me at cantor@sinaihollywood.org.

To learn more please check my Ehazzan Blog Also please subscribe to my Tephila Tips Podcast:https://ehazzan.wordpress.com/

Take care,

Hazzan Michael Krausman

Tephila Tips: Kedushat Ha Yom

Tephila Tips: Kedushat Ha Yom

On Shabbat and festivals, the central section of the Amidah, which during the week contains a series of petitions and requests, is replaced with a Blessing acknowledging the holiness of the particular occasion known as Kedushat Ha Yom.

Links:

Songs:

Many of the Musical selections from this edition come from the Judaica Sound Archives of FAU. This is an invaluable source of recorded Jewish Music.

These are short audio tidbits of information that help you to understand the meaning and structure of our prayers and services.  If you have a question, suggestion or comment; feel free to add a comment on this post or to send me an e-mail to hazzan@e-hazzan.com. You can also call me at 754-273-8613

Subscribe to the eHazzan Tephila Tips Podcast on your computer in iTunes.  Click on this linkeHazzan Tephila Tips PodcastTo  subscribe manually, click on “advanced” on the top menu bar. Select “subscribe to podcast” from the drop down menu. Paste the following link into the window that pops up; http://feeds.feedburner.com/wordpress/flUtThanks very much

“Elohai N’tzor, May God guard my tongue from evil…”

Hi

Welcome to “Share a Prayer” a quick look at a prayer that is found in our daily, Shabbat or Holy Day Prayer Service. Often during the course of the service we encounter some real gems that we don’t have time to reflect upon; this will give us an opportunity to select one prayer and take a closer look at it.

Thanks to Sharon Burak for the suggestion for this edition of Share a Prayer; “Elohai N’tzor, May God guard my tongue from evil…”

Every version of the Amidah concludes with this personal meditation which dates back many centuries to the Talmudic sage, Mar son of Ravina. During the course of the Amidah, the compilation of blessings that forms the core of each formal service, we feel as though we are in a private, one on one conversation with God. This feeling is enhanced by the process undertaken at the beginning of the Amidah where by we take 3 steps backward and 3 steps forward to symbolically separate or isolate ourselves from the rest of the congregation and step into God’s private meeting space. As we enter into God’s realm and prepare to offer our personal prayers or meditations intertwined with the ancient formula of the Amidah Blessings, we say, “Adonai S’fatai Tiftach… Lord, open my lips so that my mouth can utter Your Praise.”  In essence, we ask God to put the words in to our mouths that will give voice to our prayers. Our sages felt that as we begin our talk with God with God’s own vocabulary, we should end our encounter with the Divine with a prayer that our words continue to reflect Holiness.

At the conclusion of the Elohai N’tzor, with the words “Oseh Shalom,” we take three steps backwards and bow to the left and the right symbolizing the conclusion of our formal chat with God. However, in parting we pray that we may leave with a feeing of Divine inspiration that will, God willing, guide our thoughts, conversations and behavior until our next Holy encounter.

Here is a link to the text in Hebrew and English.

I hope you enjoy this brief look at our prayers. If you have a suggestion or question or request, email me at cantor@sinaihollywood.org.

To learn more please check my Ehazzan Blog and subscribe to my Tephila Tips Podcast:https://ehazzan.wordpress.com/

Take care,

Hazzan Michael Krausman