A Guide to Jewish Prayer

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9780805241747: A Guide to Jewish Prayer

One of the world's most famous and respected rabbis has given us the one guide we need to practice Jewish prayer and understand the prayer book.

From the origins and meaning of prayer to a step-by-step explanation of the daily services to the reason you're not supposed to chat with your friends during the service, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz answers many of the questions likely to arise about Jewish prayer.  Here are chapters on daily prayer; Sabbath prayer; prayer services for the holidays; the yearly cycle of synagogue Bible readings; the history and make-up of the synagogue; the different prayer rites for Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Yemenites, and other cultural/geographic groupings; the role of the rabbi and the cantor in the synagogue; and the role of music in the service.

The book also contains a glossary, a bibliography, and biographical sketches of the rabbis who were instrumental in creating and ordering the prayers through the ages.

Rabbi Steinsaltz's guide is an essential volume both for the newcomer to Jewish prayer and for those who have been engaged in prayer for years.

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Review:

For readers who wish to learn about Jewish prayer, A Guide to Jewish Prayer is the first book to read, and the one that will be the cornerstone of any collection of books on the subject. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, a world- renowned scholar of Judaic studies and the editor and translator of Random House's 22-volume edition of the Talmud, has written this Guide in order to "open the gates of Jewish prayer for those who want to know and comprehend both its essence and its structure, and the numerous details concerning the various prayer services." Beginning with magisterial essays on the nature of prayer and the history of the Siddur (the common Jewish prayer book), Steinsaltz then moves to a detailed description of the prayer services conducted over the course of the Jewish year, and ends with a series of essays about communal prayer, including chapters on the synagogue, prayer accessories, and the music of prayer. With a comprehensive glossary and short biographies of the many rabbis who have influenced the history of Jewish prayer, Steinsaltz's Guide provides every necessary resource for understanding prayer, for every conceivable reader--from the curious gentile to the devoted Jew. -- Michael Joseph Gross

From the Back Cover:

No book is closer to the heart of the Jew than the Siddur; none has had such a profound influence [or been] so uniquely able to penetrate to the very depths of the soul.

For generations, the Siddur was the first book the Jewish child learned to read, and through the struggle to grasp the combinations of letters, he repeated and learned to recite its phrases by heart. This bond with the prayer book engendered a great intimacy between the Jew and the Siddur in both the emotional and intellectual spheres. But the bond is not only a primary, intimate one; it is an ongoing, lifelong process. While other books are used only as study texts which, once mastered, need not be read again, or are reread only after a long period, the Siddur accompanies the Jew throughout life. . . .

No other Jewish book contains the entirety of Judaism. The Siddur is like a garland, intertwining all the strands of Judaism and encompassing all fields of Jewish creativity in all their variegated forms. It includes sections that reflect the fundamentals of Jewish faith, and those relating to the field of religious law. . . . [It] contains sections of exalted poetry, and matters of ritual procedure. There are prayers that deal with the most intimate details of individual needs and problems, supplications reflecting the sorrows and aspirations of the nation, and prayers that touch upon the entire cosmos.
--From A Guide to Jewish Prayer

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