This new Jewish year of 5775 is Congregation Emeth’s Year of Living Jewishly. (If you missed last week’s explanation go to Emeth.net, and click the button on the homepage for Rabbi’s blog.)
Here’s this week’s Mitzvah of the Week*: Find the Prayer of Your Heart
This mitzvah comes from Bereshit (Genesis) 24:63. Rebekah has agreed to be Isaac’s wife, and follows Abraham’s servant to meet Isaac. The text says:
Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening and, looking up, he saw camels approaching.
The Talmud comments on this line by taking the word “walking” (the Hebrew word is ya-zeh, to go out) to actually mean Isaac was praying. From this, they taught that Isaac instituted the afternoon daily prayer service.
Now how do we find the prayer of our heart to fulfill this mitzvah? Find a prayer in the siddur, prayerbook, and rewrite it, put it into your own words. Remember the prayers in the siddur are like poetry. Some can be taken literally and others are meant to inspire you to find your own prayer. Many were written thousands of years ago. Since then many of our ideas about God and the universe have evolved or changed. How can you make those prayers your own? Two suggestions: first, rewrite any prayer(s) that could resonate with you or be meaningful to your hopes. Put the prayer(s) into your own words, words that have the potential to speak from and to your heart. Then, bring the prayer to the temple for our next prayer service, and when we are praying from the siddur, pray your own prayer.
May you find your own voice to speak to the Holy One, and may your conversation bring you peace,
Rabbi Debbie Israel
*The “mitzvah card” comes from the packet of Mitzvah Cards, produced by Reclaiming Judaism (www.reclaimingjudaism.org) Each week, our oldest students in the Amirim class – bar/bat mitzvah and pre-bar/bat mitzvah – pick a card for Emeth’s Mitzvah of the Week.