WORSHIP OF THE HEART Essays on Jewish Prayer

Soloveitchik, Joseph B. & Shalom Carmy

Published by KTAV Publishing House, 2003
ISBN 10: 0881257710 / ISBN 13: 9780881257717
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Synopsis: "Prayer, indeed, is the symbolic portrayal of a range of experiences that form the ecstatic state of mind. Is such an exalted experience something in which every human being may share; or is it confined to the religious genius - a curious and unique type of personality who is capable of attaining this ecstatic state of mind, of rapture and unification, a personality who rejects what seems clearly, logically and tangibly to be the natural order, for the sake of tending a reality which is beyond one's grasp? Is prayer only for the mystic? We, in contrast to the mystic, are all physically and mentally children of this external concrete world and therefore, if this be true, cannot make the leap from the sensuous and real into the transcendent and absolute....
"What then does avodah she-ba-lev mean for us, with our unmystical bent of mind that tends tward the real and practicals> Can we achieve the kavvanah of tefillah in our ordinary modest way though we are not able to embark upon the great and strange adventure of the spirit? Of course the answer must be formulated in the affirmative, for otherwise tefillah would be the exclusive privilege of the imaginative genius, the mystic, and, as such, would be denied to ordinary man. Such an assertion would contradict the very essence of the Halakhah, which is an exoteric discipline to be practiced by the philosopher and simpleton, the poet and the dull person alike." ~ Excerpted from Worship of the Heart
The biblical command to serve God with all your heart is interpreted by Jewish tradition to refer to prayer. The Rav here explores the crucial interface between living religious experience and halakhic norms --the hallmark of his work. He analyzes the Amidah, the Shema, and other biblical and liturgical texts, and also considers the tension between human dependence and exaltation, the ethical and the aesthetic, the presence and absence of God, and the yearning for stability and the desire for change.

About the Author: Rabbi Soloveitchik (1903-1993) was not only one of the outstanding talmudists of the twentieth century, but also one of its most creative and seminal Jewish thinkers. Drawing from a vast reservoir of Jewish and general knowledge, the Rav, as he is widely known, brought Jewish thought and law to bear on the interpretation and assessment of the modern experience. For over four decades, Rabbi Soloveitchik commuted weekly from his home in Brookline, Massachusetts to New York City, where he gave the senior sh iur (class in Talmud) at Yeshiva University s affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), where he taught and inspired generations of students, among them many of the future leaders of all areas of Jewish communal life. By his extensive personal teaching and influence, he contributed vitally to the dynamic resurgence of Orthodox Judaism in America.

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Title: WORSHIP OF THE HEART Essays on Jewish Prayer
Publisher: KTAV Publishing House
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Hardcover
Edition: First Edition; First Printing.

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