Monday, February 27, 2017

Prayer and worship in the Torah- discussion notes

Session 2 Covered 2/25/17 Prayer and worship  in the Torah
Start from Torah- Hertz Chumash
First act of worship. Sacrifice; Minchah-Gift.Cain. Gen 4:3 p 14
 And it’s a flop! A bloody flop! UL’MINCHATO LO SHA’AH!
Next act of worship:10 generations later. Noah after the flood.8:20.p 31 This time, it works-we get the promise of the rainbow!
After that, still no sacrifice for next 10 generations. No prayer! Finally, Gen 12:8 p 46  Abraham builds mizbeach. He talks to God, he debates with God, but still no formal prayer.
Who is the first person to offer a “bracha’ a Blessing for someone? Not one of ours!
Gen 14:18 יח p 52
וּמַלְכִּי־צֶ֙דֶק֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ שָׁלֵ֔ם הוֹצִ֖יא לֶ֣חֶם וָיָ֑יִן וְה֥וּא כֹהֵ֖ן לְאֵ֥ל עֶלְיֽוֹן׃. 19 יט
וַֽיְבָרְכֵ֖הוּ וַיֹּאמַ֑ר בָּר֤וּךְ אַבְרָם֙ לְאֵ֣ל עֶלְי֔וֹן קֹנֵ֖ה שָׁמַ֥יִם וָאָֽרֶץ׃
וּבָרוּךְ֙ אֵ֣ל עֶלְי֔וֹן אֲשֶׁר־מִגֵּ֥ן צָרֶ֖יךָ בְּיָדֶ֑ךָ וַיִּתֶּן־ל֥וֹ מַעֲשֵׂ֖ר מִכֹּֽל׃

20 generations have gone by from Adam till Abraham. Finally, 20:17  p 71 Abraham prays for healing for Abimelech’s household for they have been struck barren.. Note: then, this first prayer listed is for children!.
Also, Abraham prays for the other, not for himself. Next chapter 21:2   p 71 -The birth of Isaac. Lesson-Rabbis teach from this- pray for others if you want your own prayer answered.
We have the Bracha- as a blessing of goodness for someone-Also- not by one of ours. Rebecca’s family. -.Gen 24:60. P 87 Achoteynu at  We have the idea of bracha by parent for child with Isaac to Jacob, Jacob to his sons.
Next act of prayer: Isaac-again for fertility. Gen 25:21 p 93 Vayeetar Yitzhak lenochach ishto

What we pray for tells us what we value- note that these early examples of prayer are for children! Far die kinder.

Well, Let’s go to the commands.- Is there a mitzvah to pray? First, what is a mitzvah?
Dispute: RAMBAM( Maimonides)- Prayer is a Mitzvah based in the Torah.(mideoraita)based it on Biblical text “ To serve God”-service implies ptrayer.
RAMBAN( Nachmanides)-Prayer as we know it is set by the Rabbis ( Miderabanan). It results out of a desire for God’s kindness.

Start with Exodus- we have instructions for sacrifices.
Right after 10 Commandments, 20:24 p 301 - Mizbeach adamah.
׃With Me, therefore, you shall not make any gods of silver, nor shall you make for yourselves any gods of gold.׃Make for Me an altar of earth and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your sacrifices of well-being, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you.
Here is the essence of worship in the world of Temple Judaism. I give something of mine to God, God gives something to me in return-blessing. But it is even more- not all the sacrifice is burnt-the bulk it is eaten. Who eats together? Family! We ate the sacrifice in the ancient Temple in the presence of God- He got the “ reyach Nichoach”, the beautiful smell, and we ate. What better metaphor for a sense of union with God. ( PS- who still does that? The Catholics. Communion.  The wafer and wine- the body and blood of Jesus, who is the lamb, the korban.

A true prayer  There is one incident in which we have a true personal prayer. Moses, when Miriam is stricken with leprosy. אֵ֕ל נָ֛א רְפָ֥א נָ֖א לָֽהּ׃ (פ) Number 12:13 p 619
Notice-five words. “God, please, heal, God, please, her.”  Rabbis see this as an ideal prayer. Short- to the point. So why is our prayerbook so long? It all depends on what pray means.
Is there any in the Torah itself that we must say? Shma Yisrael.Deut 6;4  p 769 Every Jew is to say it morning and evening, walking by the way, lying down- but is it a prayer? Or is it a lesson to be memorized ?
Is this a reference to an obligation to pray?

ואכלת ושבעת וברכת את־יהוה אלהיך על־הארץ הטבה אשר נתן־לך Deut 8:10 p 783   After you eat, you give blessing. That is the basis for birkat hamazon, but we don’t have any text.

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