Read the First 2 Chapters of Sleeping Truth
We Need You Now!

The Problem With Prayer Services

“Can there be spirituality, ritual observance, without thought or moral reasoning? It can be done. It’s being done. Prayer recitation, the chanting of the tropes of the sacred texts, fluency with words and cantillation replaces religious inquiry. The ritual gesture turns surrogate for theological meaning.

“For some, prayer is poetry­­–but poetry is not to be believed. Rhyme without reason, ritual without rationale, responsive readings without the response of heart or mind. When theological discussion is ignored in class or at home or in the seminary, the vacuity yields feelings of boredom and irrelevance. While some suggest that finer poetry, more popular instrumentation, or larger choruses will reinvigorate the synagogue, the truth of the matter is that aesthetics cannot replace belief. Too often, the melody of the liturgy distracts from the lyrics of the theology.

“…when I dared to ask my grandfather [about theological questions such as the fairness of God’s judgment], he would extend his hand, pinch my cheek indulgently, and deflect the question with the Yiddish expression ‘Shpeter’–‘later’. Later, when I would be older, he assured me, I would be answered. Only ‘later’ never came. The procrastination created a hole. And like nature, religion abhors a vacuum.

“[This book] exposes the reader to the diversity of Jewish responses within the Jewish tradition and frees the seeker from the erroneous monolithic myth that Jewish tradition is static, immutable, only to be obeyed and never to be changed.

“Pedagogical legend tells of a teacher in a confirmation class who asked how many of the students believed in God. No hands were raised except that of one young person. Asked how she had come to believe in God, she answered casually, ‘I don’t know. I think it just runs in my family.’

“In our days, God-talk is unheard around the table, in the classroom, or even in the seminary. That theological silence must be broken. Old questions must be renewed, and new answers must be tried. Credit the author of this energizing book who knows that we have nothing to fear but rigidity and emptiness itself.”

––Excerpts from Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis in the Foreword to Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold’s book, The God Upgrade: Finding Your 21st-Century Spirituality in Judaism’s 5,000-Year-Old Tradition (2011).

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply