The Power of Words, Story, and Prayer

“It was that power of words, the gift of language, that was the greatest gift of all that  G-d gave to Adam and Adam alone.

This then becomes the “Gesher tzar me’od”– the very narrow bridge – that crosses the abyss between finite humanity and the infinity of God.

In short, Judaism is an ongoing conversation between that once-and-once-only divine voice that sounded at Sinai and the human interpretation of those words that has continued in every generation since. It is a great conversation that never ended.

The whole of Judaism is that ongoing “conversation” between Israel and God as to how we understand God’s word for all time to make it God’s word for our time.”

(Rabbi Jonathon Sacks’ speech on the inauguration of the National Library of Israel, May 2014).

The “Torah” is considered to be G-d’s communication with man. Prayer is supposed to be man’s communication with G-d. The Torah and the Jewish prayer book – the siddur – are the source texts for all Jewish culture and civilization.

The Book of Genesis

In the book of Genesis, the Torah documents G-d “speaking” with people. G-d is reported to have “conversations” with Adam in the Garden. He had quite a few conversations with Abraham throughout his life. And, G-d spoke to Rebecca when she asks about the struggling twins in her belly.

And the children struggled within her, and she said, “If [it be] so, why do I live?” And she went to inquire of the Lord.

And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your innards, and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom, and the elder will serve the younger.” (Toldot verses 22-23)

When it comes to Jacob and Joseph, “communication” comes through dreams. However, Isaac speaks with G-d through a supplicating prayer.

And Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was barren, and the Lord accepted his prayer, and Rebecca, his wife, conceived. (Toldot verse 21)

Is it possible to communicate with G-d?

The Book of Genesis

Some say that all of the Book of Genesis comes to teach us that yes, G-d is available to each of us, individually, in our personal struggles and especially in the intimate struggles of the family.

Yael Zoldan speaking about her children’s’ book on prayer, When I Daven, says that “the very basics of prayer can be shared, even with the very young. By introducing elementary concepts such as acknowledging the gift of life, being in touch with your senses, observing the world around you, thankfulness and gratitude, preschoolers can develop an appreciation of what we do when we pray each day”.

The ongoing conversation, the communication with The Divine is the essence of prayer. And, the Cantor is considered to be the messenger of the people in voicing their thoughts and feelings in the public space.


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