Tefillah Tuesday: Chosen People

ובנו בחרת מכל עם ולשון, “And You chose us from among all nations and languages and drew us near to Your great name.” The Ahava Rabbah blessing continues by expressing gratitude for divine election – the claim that God “chose” Israel to bestow upon us this Torah lovingly and give us the opportunity to worship… Read more »

Tefillah Tuesday: Single Heart

Ahavah Rabbah continues with a plea that God will: להאר עינינו בתורתך / le’ha’er eineinu be’toratekha, “to illuminate our eyes with your Torah,” or as Danny Siegel rendered it in song: “May your eyes sparkle with the light of Torah.” דבק לבנו במצוותיך / dabbek libenu bemitzvotekha, to “make our heart cleave to Your commandments,” and /יחד לבבנו לאהבה וליראה את שמך yahed levaveinu le’ahavah u’leyirah et… Read more »

Tefillah Tuesday: Torah as a Gift of Love

The three great major themes of Jewish theology – creation, revelation, and redemption – structure the blessings before and after Shema. The first, יוצר המאורות/“who creates lights” praises God’s creation; the third, following Shema, גאל ישראל/“who redeems Israel” speaks of the One who liberates us – from Egypt specifically, but paradigmatically, from all exile and… Read more »

Tefillah Tuesday: Modeh Ani

Let’s take a break this week from going through the Siddur, to daven a short modern prayer – or rather, a modern Israeli version of a late medieval prayer. מודה אני, Modeh Ani [“I thank You”] is a familiar early morning phrase, taught to children to say upon waking, in gratitude for God restoring the… Read more »

Tefillah Tuesday: Invisible Light

אור חדש על ציון תאיר, Or hadash al Zion ta’ir, “May You shine a new light upon Zion and may we all be privileged to enjoy its light.” Ashkenazim conclude this first blessing before Shema – יוצר המאורות,Yotzer HaMeorot, “God who creates lights” – with that familiar line. But this small petition has been controversial for centuries. In general, norms of Jewish liturgy demand that blessings have… Read more »