Prayer Musings

Vayehi Binso’a Ha’aron: Two Aspects of Torah

The Torah is not merely an artifact of the past, but part of an ongoing process of revelation.

El Maleh Rachamim: Recasting the Language of Loss

This haunting memorial prayer employs subtle nuances of language to gently invert the vocabulary of grief.

Tefillat Geshem: The Prayer for Rain

Recited by Ashkenazi Jews on Shemini Atzeret, this prayer invokes the merit of Jewish ancestors in requesting the natural resource on which all life depends.

Modeh Ani: It’s Not Just About Gratitude

The first prayer traditionally recited upon awakening in the morning is commonly translated as "I thank you," but that's not all it means.

How to Remain True to God — And Each Other

The morning blessing Yotzer Or teaches something fundamental about the Jewish conception of God, and the key to successful human relationships.

Why You Should Stop Skipping Korbanot

This often ignored section of the morning prayers aims to remind us that there is holy work to be done -- and we are the only ones who can do it.

Tefillat Tal: Cultivating a Mindset of Sufficiency

In praying for something as fleeting and nearly invisible as dew, this Passover prayer honors the transition from abundance to enough-ness.

The Power of Jewish Blessings

More than mere expressions of gratitude, blessings are portals to other spiritual realms.

Hineni: A Prayer for the Ability to Pray

This meditation traditionally recited by the cantor on the High Holidays is unique for being worded in the first-person singular.

Beginning the Amidah by Connecting to Our Ancestors

The opening to the Amidah prayer shifts the perspective from personal needs to the long arc of Jewish history.

Mah Tovu: A Reminder of the Jewish Mission

The prophet Isaiah's vision of Israel as a light unto the nations is reflected in this essential Jewish prayer.

Yigdal Orders the World

A prayer that seems to be about certainty turns out to actually be all about doubt and the limits of our own knowledge.