Fixed Prayer and Spontaneity

Reconciling the experience of repeatedly praying from an established text with the need for prayer to come from the heart.

Print this page Print this page

AA: Yes and no. It would obviously be so if the recitation of the prayer became nothing more than a rote exercise, but such a prayer is in any case considered unacceptable in Judaism. On the other hand, the existence of formulae and, in fact, a fixed text is of great advantage.

For prayer is, as I [have] said before, a reaching out to God: in the Amidah we stand before Him ("standing" is, in fact, the meaning of the Hebrew word amidah) and speak. Now at this moment we must (as I once described to you) have absolute certainty; our standing there and reaching out must flow of itself, and the words must come out uninterruptedly to make a great line, a connection, between us and God--that is why we must be entirely collected and sure of where we are going. And so it is that the content of our prayer, and eventually each and every word, came to be fixed, lest we wander and lose our way.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.