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"Daily Prayers of Gratitude"

12/14/2021 09:33:03 AM

Dec14

Chevre,

As we come to the end of our secular calendar year, it is easy to see how far we've come and how far we have to go. The miracle of vaccines and boosters, the ability to protect our precious children, the ability to gather again. As a society, we are still struggling with polarized views of what is best for our nation, and that continues to impact people's personal and professional relationships. And through all the dramatic sweeps and challenges, there is the constant truth, which is that we all only have today. We are blessed each day with the present moment. The past is the past, and the future is not here.

One of the basic teachings of Judaism is the sanctification of time and the appreciation for each moment, each blessing, each miracle. It is so easy to anticipate, expect, and demand, but the reality is that we are blessed to just be here, and, with awareness, even with all the serious challenges some of us face, we can find gratitude.

Our prayer book (siddur) offers the prescribed prayers and blessings to help us in a formal way. If you don't have your own home copy of a siddur, perhaps this is a good time to shop around for one that speaks to you. I personally enjoy the Reconstructionist Weekday prayer book - Kol HaNeshamah. Another very enjoyable and interesting siddur, with accessible translations and extra readings, is Siddur Lev Shalem. (We use the Machzor Lev Shalem during the High Holidays). Perhaps you might appreciate an Orthodox siddur, or the Reform siddur Mishkan Tefillah, which also has beautiful commentary and readings.

Judaism offers many approaches to prayer. I've written in the past about the free-style "have-a-talk-with-Gd" type of prayer and that may be your "go-to". But, just reading through prayers that have no meaning to you, will most probably yield unfulfilling results. Know that you don't have to wait to attend a formal service, to have an ongoing relationship with your Jewish prayer practice. You are allowed to have your own siddur at home. Our Religious School students are given their own prayer book in third grade. You may have a Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals on a bookshelf in your house! 

I am a staunch proponent of daily meditation, and that is not instead of prayer. But both require you to show up and bring awareness and openness. It's never too early or too late to keep learning, and to keep growing. Siddurim are purchasable at Jewish Book Stores and online.

Tue, January 18 2022 16 Shevat 5782