Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Is God Listening?

Although I may not always agree with him, I like to follow the writings of Chief Rabbi Lord Dr. Jonathan Sacks as he is one of the most eloquent Jewish philosophers of our day. He has tried an interesting approach to help people get prepared for the High Holy Days, sending out a daily email with some inspiration for tshuva.

I like this quick idea and points to ongoing search for the perfect tefilla:

Bilvavi mishkan evneh. A lovely poem about prayer itself, written by Rabbi Eliezer Azikri, one of the mystics in Tzefat in the late sixteenth century. "In my heart I will build a temple to God's glory. In it I'll built an altar, lit by the fire of Abraham's love, and as a sacrifice, I offer to God my one and only soul."

Prayer is the language of faith, and the prayer book is the map of the Jewish mind. The song we sing to God is the music of the Jewish soul, and somehow in time beyond time and space beyond space, our finitude meets God's infinity and we are brushed by the wings of the Divine presence, the Shekhinah.

Don't expect it to happen every time, or all at once. For there is no human understanding without time and study. Yet it is there in our prayers, written by our ancestors as they strove to find the words that would reach out toward the unsayable like a message transmitted to some distant star.

And there you will find the mystery of Jewish spirituality that turned our ancestors, a tiny and otherwise undistinguished people, into a nation that defied the laws of history and outlasted all the world's great empires. Prayer is the place where speaking meets God's listening, and in ways we will never understand, we are transformed

1 comment:

  1. I have always had a tough time with "Bilvavee." I find it very difficult to sing if I begin to think about its words in that I don't see the Akeida as my eternal light, nor do I seek to sacrifice my soul to God. Despite the beautiful tune, this is a harsh song, and it clashes fiercely with the sense of ובחרת בחיים and the life-embracing side of Judaism.