Prayer in Judaism

Prayer in Judaism

Prayer in Judaism

Prayer in Judaism

Excerpt

This book was not written for specialists either in Jewish liturgy or in the history and thought of Judaism. It is addressed primarily to the intelligent layman, though it is hoped that the scholar also will find it not without value.

Two convictions underlie this volume. The first is that a religion is generally best understood by its forms of devotion. This is especially true of Judaism, which, while it has complex and highly developed systems of theology, anthropology, soteriology, and ethics, has historically not been much concerned either with describing these exhaustively in abstract treatises or summarizing them briefly in creedal statements. The heart of Jewish faith particularly—its living convictions about the nature of God, man, the road to salvation, the way of right conduct— is best reflected in the prayers of Judaism. The supreme importance of the Prayer Book in Judaism is dealt with at some length in Part I.

The second conviction of this book is that many of the traditional prayers of Judaism are devotional classics of universal value. By classics I mean works of enduring freshness in which new significance is continually discoverable. When I suggest that these prayers have universal value, I mean to say that, although they breathe the unique spirit of Judaism, they will not be found meaningless by men and women committed to other faiths. This is obviously true of the psalms of the Hebrew Bible which have become the foundation of . . .

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