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 »

Tefillah Tuesday: Seeds of Righteousness

A short tefillah comment this week, on a single phrase toward the conclusion of the first blessing before Shema. The paragraph לא’ל ברוך, La’El Barukh [to the God called “Blessed”], enumerates a number of fairly generic expressions of praise: to You sweet songs are sung, and for God alone does wonders, etc. To my ear… Read more »