Tefillah (16:1 fall 2017)

From the editor’s introduction:

Ever since the institution of formalized prayer there has been anxiety about the impact of that decision. “When one makes his prayer fixed it is no longer a supplication” (Mishnah Berakhot 4:4).

The implications are educational as well as theological. Educating to the formal structures of tefillah functions as an important gateway to socializing the student into an adult community of Jewish prayer, but the more we focus on that important element the more we constrain the individual expression and the internal prayerful experience.

In the contemporary educational scene, this dichotomy often expresses itself as a lens of the school’s halakhic orientation. Typically (and there are always exceptions), greater halakhic commitment means less flexibility in the prayer format, greater emphasis on the socialization toward communal prayer, and less emphasis on personalizing the experience. Conversely, fewer halakhic requirements allow for greater flexibility and personal meaning-making while sacrificing the communal component.

Read more about tefillah, in this issue of JEL:

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