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Practicing or a practice? 

12/04/2022 07:21:46 PM

Dec4

     Recently, I was trying to encourage a student to come to services in the months leading up to their becoming a bar/bat mitzvah. The student said "why do I have to come to services, I already learned all the prayers in religious school". Yes, indeed, if one  were to wander through the halls  and overhear our vav and zayin students "practice" their tefillot (prayers) with Morah Nurit, you might be pretty impressed. I know I am. However, that student's question stunned me because it made me realize that although we have very good at teaching our children to "practice" their tefillot, perhaps we could be doing more to encourage the "practice of praying". I tried to explain to the student that they are studying these prayers NOT just to lead  them on the day of the bar ot bat mitzvah, but they are studying them so they can fully join the congregation on any day, for the rest of their lives.  

     I wanted to explain that we have our students practice prayers to enable them to develop a PRAYER PRACTICE.   When we carve out a time... even a few minutes of our day in the morning, afternoon or evening to recite a tefillah we start to develop a relationship with something greater than ourselves. Learning our  language of communal prayer is only the first step of a life long spiritual practice. 

     The great Jewish thinker, Abraham Joshua Heschel says that  "The focus of prayer is not the self. Prayer comes to pass in a complete turning of the heart toward God, toward His goodness and power. It is the momentary disregard of our personal concerns, the absence of self-centered thoughts, which constitute the art of prayer. Feeling becomes prayer in the moment in which we forget ourselves and become aware of God..."  Maybe that moment does not occur each and every time to daven. But the more often we daven, pray or engage in tefillah, the more potential we create to experience that moment of "forgetting about ourselves and becoming aware of God". And, isn't that the goal of our practice? 

 

     

 

 

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784