Prayer Musings

Prayer Musings

The Traveler’s Prayer: What You Say Along the Way

In Judaism, it is the journey, not the destination, that matters.

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How to Pray for Happiness

The prayer Eilu Devarim reflects the seeming paradox that focusing on others more than ourselves makes us happier.

Prayer Musings

The Shema: A Model of Moral Development

The prayer's three paragraphs seem unrelated, but they lead us on the steps of a spiritual journey.

Elohai Neshama: Breathing the Soul Alive

The simple words of this traditional morning blessing draw us back to the dawn of our mythic creation.

Netilat Yadayim: Sanctifying Our Primary Moral Instrument

Jewish tradition calls for the washing of hands every morning, which serves as a reminder to use them for holy purposes.

Modeh Ani: Beginning the Day with Gratitude

Starting the day with gratefulness opens the heart to the blessing of wonder.

Shehechiyanu: A Meditation on this Moment

This blessing, traditionally recited for firsts, can be said anytime -- since every moment is new and unprecedented.

The Shema: How Listening Leads to Oneness

Judaism's foundational prayer calls on us not merely to listen, but to remember that there is one force of connection uniting us all.

Al Hanisim: A Holiday Prayer of Thanks for Everyday Miracles

Why does the prayer recited on Hanukkah fail to make any mention of the holiday's central miracle?

Aleinu: A Call to Divine Service

This prayer calls on us to discover where the brokenness of the world overlaps with our particular human gifts.

Min Ha-meitzar: Calling to God From the Depths

From the constriction of our places of pain, Psalm 118 invites us into the wide expanse of the divine presence.

Al Hanisim: Remembering Our Partnership in God’s Miracles

Both the holidays when this prayer is recited are marked by courageous human action in making space for the miraculous.

Kol Nidrei: The Power of Words

Why does the holiest day of the Jewish year begin with a dry legal formula renouncing vows?

Kiddush: Holding the Divine Presence in Our Hands

Jewish mysticism sees the sanctification of wine as a spiritual practice to manifest God's presence in the world.

Hashkiveinu: Seeking Comfort and Protection Through the Night

This prayer, traditionally recited in the evening, envisions God as a guide and shelter.