The Essential Guide to Jewish Prayer and Practices


An insightful and illuminating guide to Judaism's basic tenets and practices.

The Essential Guide to Jewish Prayer and Practices offers a more profound understanding of Judaism-for practicing Jews and non-Jews alike-by explaining the key concepts of Jewish thought, including the sanctity of human life, Judaism's concept of God, and the role of the Torah in guiding Jewish spiritual life. Judaic studies scholar Andrea Lieber introduces readers to the form of Jewish prayer-the ...

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An insightful and illuminating guide to Judaism's basic tenets and practices.

The Essential Guide to Jewish Prayer and Practices offers a more profound understanding of Judaism-for practicing Jews and non-Jews alike-by explaining the key concepts of Jewish thought, including the sanctity of human life, Judaism's concept of God, and the role of the Torah in guiding Jewish spiritual life. Judaic studies scholar Andrea Lieber introduces readers to the form of Jewish prayer-the structure of Jewish worship and the different kinds of prayers that make up Jewish liturgy.
• The perfect guide for Jewish spirituality for affiliated and non- practicing Jews as well as people of other faiths
• Provides essential knowledge of the meaning of the Torah and the rituals of worship and prayer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781615641383
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/6/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 538,279
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea Lieber, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Religion at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she holds the Sophia Ava Asbell Chair of Judaic Studies. She has published numerous articles and reviews in the field of early Jewish and Christian mysticism. She received her BA from Vassar College and PhD from Columbia University
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Table of Contents

Part 1 The Foundations of a Meaningful Life 1

1 Life Is Sacred 3

L'chayim! To Life! 3

The Torah as a Roadmap for Life 4

Human Beings and the Divine Image 7

The Responsibility of Bearing the Divine Image 8

The Power of Speech 8

The Power of Reason 9

The Breath of Life 9

Seeing the Divine Image in Ourselves and Others 10

2 Feeling God's Presence 13

Direct Access 14

Divine Unity 14

God Has No Limits 14

An Exclusive Relationship 15

God Is Beyond Language 16

The Limits of Metaphor 16

Cultivating Wonder-God Is Awesome 18

Covenant 19

Mitzvot 20

Mitzvot as a Sacred Obligation 21

Mitzvot as a Spiritual Discipline 22

3 The Art of Blessing 25

Cultivating Gratitude 26

A Blessing Is an Act of Creation 26

Blessing Basics 27

The Preamble 27

The Body 29

Blessings of Enjoyment 30

Blessings for Unique Moments 31

Blessings for Performing a Mitzvah 32

Blessings over Food 32

Finding the Right Words 34

It All Starts with Wonder 35

4 The Torah as a Spiritual Guide 37

The People of the Book 38

A Divine Text 38

Defining the Torah 40

Interpretation and the Oral Torah 42

Study as Spiritual Practice 44

Learn Every Day 45

Find Yourself a Teacher 45

Find a Study Partner 46

Hear the Torah Chanted 47

Part 2 The Path Toward Prayer 49

5 What Is Jewish Prayer? 51

Drawing Near: The Legacy of Temple Sacrifice 52

Reaching Out to God 53

Expressing Desire 55

Know Before Whom You Stand 56

Praise, Petition, and Gratitude 57

Praise 57

Petition 58

Gratitude 60

Finding Your Prayer Voice 62

Music and Prayer 63

Song, Silence, and Tears 64

6 The Language of Jewish Prayer 67

Hebrew as the Language of Jewish Prayer 68

Hebrew Evolves 68

Learning Hebrew Through Prayer 69

Praying with Authenticity in Any Language 70

Keva and Kavanah: Fixed and Spontaneous Prayer 72

Becoming Familiar with the Siddur 72

Going Beyond Words on a Page 74

The Body as a Vehicle for Expression 74

Praying Without Words 75

A Note on Jewish Languages 75

7 Prayer as a Sacred Obligation 77

Public Versus Private Prayer 77

Prayer as Communal and Personal Responsibility 79

Minyan: A Symbol of Community 80

Who Counts? 82

Accounting for Gender 83

What If I Don't Feel Like Praying? 86

8 Dressing for Jewish Prayer 89

Head Covering 89

Kipah/Yarmulke 90

Women and Hair 92

Hats 92

On the Fringe 93

Tallit Katan and Tallit Gadol 94

How to Put on a Tallit 95

Ties That Bind: The Mitzvah of Tefillin 97

The Origins of Tefillin 98

Tefillins Meaning 100

Buying and Caring for Tefillin 100

How to Put on Tefillin 101

Part 3 The Practice of Prayer 105

9 The Rhythm of Daily Prayer 107

The Gift of Awakening 108

Giving Thanks 110

Grateful for the Gift of the Body 111

Grateful for the Gift of the Soul 111

Psalms of Praise 112

The Shema and Its Blessings 114

The Prayer: Silent Devotion and the Amidah 116

Afternoon and Evening 118

Mincha 118

Ma'ariv 118

Bedtime 119

10 The Flavor of Shabbat 121

A Sanctuary in Time 122

Shabbat in the Torah 123

The Sabbath as a Day of Rest 125

Defining Sabbath Rest 125

The Sabbath Unplugged 126

The Sabbath as a Taste of World Peace 127

Preparation Is Everything 128

Kindling Shabbat Lights 129

Blessings at the Table 130

Family Blessings 131

Wine and Bread 132

Spirituality Around the Sabbath Table 132

Hospitality 133

Words of the Torah 133

Songs at the Table 134

What Happens on Saturday? 135

The Third Meal and Havdalah 136

11 Days of Awe: The High Holy Days 139

A Spiritual Accounting 140

The Call of the Shofar 141

Elul as a Month of Preparation 141

Jewish Ideas About Sin and Repentance 143

Rosh HaShanah: The Jewish New Year 144

Special Prayers for Rosh HaShanah 145

The Shofar Service 147

Tashlikh: Casting Away Our Sins 148

Symbolic Foods 148

Yom Kippur 149

Kol Nidre 151

Confessional Prayers 152

Yizkor: The Memorial Prayer 154

12 Prayers for Jewish Festivals 157

Three Pilgrimage Festivals 158

Passover 159

Springtime and Renewal 160

The Seder 162

Shavuot 164

Sukkot: The Time of Our Joy 166

Building a Sukkah 167

Hospitality 169

Four Species: The Lulav and Etrog 170

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah 173

Hanukkah: The Time for Miracles 174

Purim 176

13 Prayers for Family Milestones 179

Celebrating the Present 180

Celebrating New Life 181

Jewish Peoplehood 182

Divine Covenant 182

A Jewish Name 183

Brit Milah: Circumcision 183

The Mohel 184

A Family Affair 185

Liturgy 186

Rituals for Welcoming Baby Girls 189

Adoption 190

Coming of Age 191

Preparation for Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah 192

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony 193

Adult Bar and Bat Mitzvah 195

Blessings for Marriage 195

Huppah: The Marriage Canopy 196

Kiddushin: Sanctification 198

Ketubah: The Marriage Writ 199

Sheva Berakhot: Seven Wedding Blessings 200

Breaking the Glass 201

14 Prayers for Healing and Mourning 203

Reaching Out in a Time of Need 204

Traditional Prayers for Healing 206

Prayers for Healing in the Daily Amidah 207

Mi-shebayrach and Birkat ha-Gomel 208

Healing Services 209

Finding Comfort in Psalms 210

Visiting the Sick 212

Mourning and Loss 213

The Greatest Kindness 214

Comforting Mourners 217

Part 4 Jewish Spirituality in the Synagogue and Beyond 219

15 The Synagogue as Sacred Space 221

Belonging 222

Feeling at Home in the Synagogue 225

Turning Toward Jerusalem 226

Elements of Sacred Space 227

The Ark 227

The Bimah 228

Gender Segregation 229

More Ritual Objects 230

Jewish Clergy 231

Finding Your Spiritual Home 232

16 The People of the Scroll 235

The Torah Service 236

Taking the Torah from the Ark 237

Procession of the Torah 238

The Anatomy of a Torah Scroll 240

Ascending to the Torah 241

How to Have an Aliyah 242

Chanting the Torah 246

Returning the Torah to the Ark 247

17 Jewish Spirituality at Home 251

A Small Sanctuary 252

Marking Doorposts 254

Sanctifying the Way We Eat 256

Separation of Meat and Dairy 257

Prohibition of Forbidden Animals 258

Kosher Slaughter 258

Kosher Vessels 259

Variations in Practice 259

Mealtime Blessings 261

How to Begin Keeping Kosher 261

Blessings for a Formal Meal 262

Blessings for Snacks and Lighter Meals 264

Niddah: Separation 265

Mikvah 266

Other Uses of the Mikvah 268

18 Charity, Ethics, and Social Justice 271

Biblical Foundations 272

Prayer in Action 274

Cultivating Generosity 275

Giving from the Heart 276

Tzedakah: Obligatory Giving 277

Gemilut Hasadim: Acts of Lovingkindness 280

Getting Involved 281


A Glossary 285

B Resources 293

Index 303

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