Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Amidah - part 0

The Amidah is the central prayer in Jewish worship.  It was originally 18 blessings, recited 3 times a day by religious Jews.  At some point one of the blessings was split in 2, so it's now 19 blessings.  Before beginning this prayer, we stand facing Jerusalem, and prepare ourselves by
1. Taking 3 steps backwards "Lord, open my lips..."
2. Then taking 3 steps forwards "...and my mouth shall speak Your praise!"

Even praising G*d we cannot do unless He opens our lips for us.  But we CAN ask Him to do so!  We can ask G*d to give us the power to do that which we ought.  If He can give us the power, and if furthermore we NEED him to give us the power before we can act, whence do we get the power to ask?  It is the tension of free will vs. determinism right there! If we have the free will to ASK, why do we have to ask?  Why cant we just DO?  In this short sequence, we accept and embrace the tension, and use it to energize the prayer which follows.

1 comment:

  1. If we have the free will to ASK, why do we have to ask? Why cant we just DO?

    I guess my answer would be: we have the free will, but not necessarily the control. A paraplegic, for example, has free will, but has lost control and some bodily function, and can certainly pray for better health.

    And there's the natural follow-up question: why must we ask G*d for these things? To my way of thinking, G*d expects us to use our free will. G*d will grant us life and health and the myriad blessings we (mostly) take for granted... but we need to remain aware that they are blessings. We ask for them so as not to take them for granted.

    This is a common thread in orthodox Judaism, to thank G*d for just about everything. (There's even a bathroom prayer, which thanks G*d for making sure openings stay open and such. It sounds ridiculous at first... but when you think about it, wouldn't it be horrible if elimination didn't work properly for you? How fervently would you pray in that case?... And, as such, doesn't it make sense to give thanks when things are going well?)

    The human body is such a tremendously complex piece of machinery that, frankly, it's a miracle that everything does work as consistently as it does. And shouldn't we give thanks for miracles?


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