Friday, July 01, 2011

Say It Like You Mean It: Prayer as Text (class)

Amit Gevaryahu's Mechon Hadar class, "Say It Like You Mean It: Prayer as Text," has been very interesting and informative thus far, and I'm looking forward to his future classes. We've been discussing the first b'rachah/blessing of Maariv/Arvit/Evening Service, known as HaMaariv Aravim (roughly translated, "Who brings on evenings"). First, there was the interesting question of whether HaShem "brings on evenings" directly or indirectly--if memory serves me correctly, the Palestinian Jews said yes, whereas the Babylonian Jews said that He used "agents" such as His word (d'varo), His wisdom (chochmah), His understanding (t'vunah), and His will (r'tzono). Then, there was the, to me, even more interesting question of why, if reciting the Sh'ma is a mitzvah (commandment), we never use the standard b'rachah-before-performing-a mitzvah formula "asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu . . ./who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us . . ." Note that this omission also applies to the Sh'ma recited in Shacharit/Morning Service and to the Sh'ma al HaMita/Bedtime Sh'ma. Hmm. Stay tuned, and/or we'll see you next Tuesday.


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