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Prayer and Liturgy

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Selichot, part 1: Lishmoa El HaRina VeEl HaTefilla- Supplication and Prayer
Selichot, part 1: Lishmoa El HaRina VeEl HaTefilla- Supplication and Prayer
Click here for more in this series. The structure of selichot and the Ashkenazi practice of starting selichot on a Saturday night--BeMotza'ei Menucha  
Zichronot: Memory, Judgement and Covenant, Understanding the Central Prayer of Rosh Hashanah
Zichronot: Memory, Judgement and Covenant, Understanding the Central Prayer of Rosh Hashanah
In this session, we will look at the themes of memory, judgement, and covenant in Zichronot (verses of remembrance), one of the three blessings we add to musaf on Rosh HaShanah.
Becoming a Sage and Efficacious Prayer in the Ancient Jewish Diaspora
Becoming a Sage and Efficacious Prayer in the Ancient Jewish Diaspora
Themes of Yom Kippur as Reflected in Our Liturgy
Themes of Yom Kippur as Reflected in Our Liturgy
Through an examination of the Yom Kippur prayer service, we will uncover major themes of the holiday.
Themes of Rosh HaShanah as Reflected in Our Liturgy (part 1 of a 2-session class)
Themes of Rosh HaShanah as Reflected in Our Liturgy (part 1 of a 2-session class)
Click here to listen to the second session. Through an examination of the Rosh HaShanah prayer service, we will uncover major themes of the holiday.
Songs of My Beloved: A Musical Celebration of Shir HaShirim
Songs of My Beloved: A Musical Celebration of Shir HaShirim
Praying through the Bible: An Exploration of Liturgical Language
Praying through the Bible: An Exploration of Liturgical Language
After exploring the various ways Jewish liturgy integrates Bible into our received prayers, we will examine how our community constructs prayers to respond to new circumstances today. Celebrating the publication of the Jewish Study Bible (2nd edition).
Confession and Repentance (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Confession and Repentance (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Click here to listen to the other class sessions. We will look at a variety of biblical and rabbinic texts relating to the act of confession and the role of repentance.  
Piyyutim of the High Holidays (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Piyyutim of the High Holidays (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Click here to listen to the other class sessions. High holiday services often seem dominated by intricate, often difficult to understand, liturgical poetry (piyyutim). We explore various piyyutim, uncovering layers of biblical and midrashic allusions.  
The Binder, the Bound, and the Altar: The Akeidah in High Holiday Liturgy
The Binder, the Bound, and the Altar: The Akeidah in High Holiday Liturgy
In this overview of the Zichronot section of our Rosh Hashanah liturgy, we ask - why is remembrance so important to God's yearly judgement?
The Broken Sounds of the Shofar
The Broken Sounds of the Shofar
The Shofar is often thought of as a "word-less prayer". How might that model impact our everyday experience of tefilah?
Body and Soul: Understanding the Asceticism of Yom Kippur (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Body and Soul: Understanding the Asceticism of Yom Kippur (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Click here to listen to the other class sessions. What is the connection between the restrictions of Yom Kippur and repentance? How do they help us achieve atonement?  
Prayer and Human Needs: R. Soloveitchik and Other Recent Thinkers
Prayer and Human Needs: R. Soloveitchik and Other Recent Thinkers
In praying for ourselves we become sensitized to the needs of others. What are the values that we extract from our prayers?
Words Filled with Light: Hasidic Mystical Reflections on Kavvanah and Contemplative Prayer
Words Filled with Light: Hasidic Mystical Reflections on Kavvanah and Contemplative Prayer
An analysis of meditative practices adding to the experience of prayer.
Less Ego, More God: R. Abraham Joshua Heschel in Conversation with Hasidic Masters and Christian Mystics on the Spiritual Project of Prayer
Less Ego, More God: R. Abraham Joshua Heschel in Conversation with Hasidic Masters and Christian Mystics on the Spiritual Project of Prayer
An exploration of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's outlook on how self-transcendence as a means of connection to God can be achieved through the values instilled by prayer.
Shabbat Prayer
Shabbat Prayer
In this podcast, Rabbi Silber discusses the Amidah of Shabbat.
Kol Nidre: An Analysis of Its True Significance
Kol Nidre: An Analysis of Its True Significance
Kol Nidre, a nullification of vows, is one of the prayer highlights of the year. Why? We will explore the nature of Kol Nidre and uncover the great significance of this prayer.
Prayers of Yom Kippur: Me’erev ad erev
Prayers of Yom Kippur: Me’erev ad erev
Through an analysis of the five prayers of Yom Kippur, this podcast explores the concepts of Yom Kippur as they emerge from the service.
God of Whose Fathers? Converts to Judaism and the Language of Prayer
God of Whose Fathers? Converts to Judaism and the Language of Prayer
Jewish prayer seeks universality, yet reflects particularity through its focus on a national patriarchal heritage. Where does a convert to Judaism fit into this language of prayer?
Biblical Insights on the Morning Blessings: From Eden to Isaiah to Socrates
Biblical Insights on the Morning Blessings: From Eden to Isaiah to Socrates
We are so familiar with the morning blessings in the Siddur that we often recite them by rote, without paying attention to their deeper meaning. In our session, we will discuss the Biblical (and sometimes Greek) origins of these blessings to better appreciate their underlying message and how they form a wonderful way to ‘start the day.’
The Rock Whose Ways are Great: Blessing God in Times of Tragedy
The Rock Whose Ways are Great: Blessing God in Times of Tragedy
An exploration of midrashic tales of dismay and righteous responses to tragic fates.
Understanding Our Selichot Service: A Rabbinic Tapestry of Biblical Themes and Verses
Understanding Our Selichot Service: A Rabbinic Tapestry of Biblical Themes and Verses
How is the Selichot service different from our regular prayer service? Through analysis of its structure, key sections and themes, this podcast explores Selichot's Biblical roots and Rabbinic history in order to better understand its purpose and meaning.  Part of The Stanley Rudoff Memorial High Holy Day Lecture Series.
Making Sense Out of Musaf: Using Tanakh to Explain Our Rosh HaShanah Makhzor
Making Sense Out of Musaf: Using Tanakh to Explain Our Rosh HaShanah Makhzor
It can be difficult enough just to follow the prayer service on Rosh HaShanah, let alone to understand what is going on in the Makhzor. We will explain the basic biblical concepts that lay behind our special High Holiday prayers, focusing primarily on the structure and basic themes of the lengthy Musaf service.
Prayers of Yom Kippur (part 1 of 2 sessions)
Prayers of Yom Kippur (part 1 of 2 sessions)
Click here to listen to the other class session. We say more prayers on Yom Kippur than on any other day on the Jewish calendar. We will discuss several unique features in the prayers of Yom Kippur.
Prayers of Rosh HaShanah
Prayers of Rosh HaShanah
We will discuss the prayers of Rosh HaShanah.
Voices of Our Fathers: The Patriarchs and Today’s Challenge of Prayer
Voices of Our Fathers: The Patriarchs and Today’s Challenge of Prayer
Prayer as a “Transformative” Experience: From Daily Kriyat Shema to Yom Kippur Neilah
Prayer as a “Transformative” Experience: From Daily Kriyat Shema to Yom Kippur Neilah
Our High Holiday prayers assume that each individual is judged by God on Rosh HaShanah, and that judgment is then sealed on Yom Kippur. Hence, the goal of our prayers is to "transform" the Judge's opinion in our favor. By distinguishing between "comprehension" and "intention" we will undertake a closer examination of prayer in both the siddur and machzor to show how its primary goal may focus much more on the "transformation" of the petitioner.
Major Prayers of the Jewish Festivals (part 1 of 3 sessions)
Major Prayers of the Jewish Festivals (part 1 of 3 sessions)
Click here to listen to the other class sessions. The class will focus on the festival amidah and hallel and the prayers for rain and dew.
Approaches to Prayer
Approaches to Prayer
We will examine a variety of approaches to the nature of payer and its significance through a study of classical and modern sources.
How the Bible Influences the Siddur
How the Bible Influences the Siddur
Piyyutim of Shabbat
Piyyutim of Shabbat
Liturgical Poems grace the Shabbat prayers and the Shabbat table. We will examine the texts and learn beautiful musical renditions for two Shabbat piyyutim.
Centrality of Aleinu on Rosh HaShanah: A Biblical Perspective on the Concept of Malchiot in Musaf
Centrality of Aleinu on Rosh HaShanah: A Biblical Perspective on the Concept of Malchiot in Musaf
Malchiot, declaring God's Kingdom, emerges as one of the central themes of our prayers on Rosh HaShanah. We will begin by tracing the concept of malchiot in the Bible and its relation to the Covenant between God and His People. We will then study the malchiot section of musaf, which is introduced by Aleinu Leshabayach.
Divine Time and Human Time: Modes of Sanctification- The Meaning of Keriyat Shema
Divine Time and Human Time: Modes of Sanctification- The Meaning of Keriyat Shema
The puzzling arrangement of the laws of Keriyat Shema in Berachot Chapters 1-3 reveal the different ways in which man invests divinely ordained times with human meaning. How do the Sages of the Mishnah think frameworks of sanctity should be integrated with or separated from everyday social settings? Part of Drisha's Winter Week of Learning 2005, dedicated in memory of Rifka Rosenwein, z”l.