Rethinking Jewish Faith: The Child of a Survivor Responds

By Steven L. Jacobs | Go to book overview

3
The Crises of Prayer
Prayer, too, like so much else, now stands in need of rethinking in light of Shoah. Appeals to God to correct present situations or to dramatically alter future possibilities have now proven themselves of no avail. To now expect God to respond on a less frightful level to less critical pleas is, to my way of thinking, theological absurdity, having realized no response from On High to words spoken in earnestness and fervor during the long dark night of Nazism's all-too-successful reign of terror. Unless, of course, we are prepared to accept a God able to deal with only the inconsequential rather than the consequential, equally a theological absurdity. Prayer will now have to become an internal plea, given voice and thought, for recognition that
1. . the universe does manifest certain harmonies if we are but receptive to them;
2. . creation allows us more possibilities for human growth than does destruction;
3. .aesthetic appreciation of our world enhances our pleasure at being part of it;
4. .the prayerfully poetic words of our predecessors, both Jewish and Christian, contained with the siddurim (sabbath and festival prayer books) and machzorim (High Holy Day prayer books) of both religious traditions, now reinterpreted since the Shoah, likewise increase the shared yearnings of all humankind for peace and survival;
5. .the disciplined gatherings of like-minded groups in celebration and in sorrow can help energize us to confront the challenges of our own day and learn from each other;
6. . last and perhaps most important, we need not suspend our intellect nor deny historical realities, especially those of the Shoah, when we engage in what we will continue to call prayer.

We will take each in turn.

-29-

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