praying.

We look to the one who yearns for those who yearn for Him, even in this time; the one who yearns also for those who don’t hear Him, in these days. We look to Him like a king over all of these things, and thank Him for giving life again. When we see the works of His hands, we are thankful. As we see the work of His fingers, we look only to Him, and He is our God. Why do we stand before a king, why go so far as to say that the silent stars are speaking, why wonder that we are so small and then believe that grace has poured gifts out on us like kings? We know Him in our hearts; we look into the details to see if we can stand firmer and walk more wisely, but the marriage of our hearts to the memory of His closeness is a big part of it.

How can religious Jews pray the communal prayers in the liturgy every day at times when they have questions about the truth of all that they thank God for? It’s true that they respond in obedience to the obligation to pray, and feel blessed by the closeness to God that is brought by setting aside their time and hearts, standing like this to offer prayers together. But how can they have integrity towards truth, if they say things in the shared prayers that they are questioning in private prayer, perhaps for a time?

When people from this nation speak and pray as a collected group of individuals, together, they hold in their hearts and receive with their mouths the heritage and the message that has been entrusted to a nation that is bigger than any one of its people. They speak not only for themselves, but for the living Israelite community, the values they hold within it as Torah-following Jews. So in these affirmations, their message is kept clear and resonant, and people can meet it, weigh it, with real understanding of the life held in it, and eventually choose whether to stand inside that community or outside it. For those who choose to stand inside, even with questions, it seems valuable to be able to stand together before God in the story they remember together from Him. This doesn’t answer the question, but it is something to consider.

These prayers are certainly a gift to listen to from the heritage of Judaism, and these communities are strengthened in what has been poured through them for all these generations of shared love and expression.

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