invite you into the heart of Jewish spirituality, to learn about its idiom and imagery, its emotions and its great sweeping dramas. I invite you to meet six ideal personalities of Jewish prayer. And I invite you to get to know some of their respective prayers.
My thesis in this book is simple. Jews pray every day in holy synagogues and in ordinary places throughout the world. When they do so, they engage in sacred rituals and they recite and sing and meditate prayers that derive from six distinct archetypes. I invite you to meet the six personalities: the performer, the mystic, the scribe, the priest, the meditator and the celebrity.
My approach in this book is also simple. I use stories, anecdotes and personal references throughout this volume. But this work is not a personal memoir. My narrative framework in the text will help guide you to discover some deep and personal meanings in the classic Jewish liturgies.
I will tell you about a few of my experiences and several of my outstanding teachers to motivate your interest and humanize what can be difficult and abstract prayers. In the past, a lot of dry theological approaches have been applied to the readings of the liturgy. As a result, in our synagogues, it is common to hear that many are bored with the services or alienated from them.
My point is that liturgy is not dry theology. It is a vibrant enterprise of bright ways of expression, filled with colorful pictures, evoking sentiments and passions and full of exhilaration. To appreciate great prayers, people need to stop, to find their own personal threads of liturgical meanings and to discover all of its energy and excitement.