#BlogElul 16: Pray

Oy. I made it halfway through Elul without missing a day, and I was so proud of myself, I promptly missed Thursday. That’ll larn me to get too pleased with myself.

So the theme for Elul 16 was Pray. Maybe that’s why I missed it – it can be such a personal topic, and yet it is very much a communal one as well. As a lay service leader at my synagogue, I get to do both – to have my own private communication with the Almighty, and to lead the minyan, the quorum of Jewish adults who are standing behind me, in words of praise and supplication.

I also had the privilege on Elul 16 of helping to create a quorum for a small funeral. Partly because I was there, the children of the woman we were honouring were able to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, that paean of praise and hope that we say when we are thinking of the dead. While our private grief at losing loved ones is real, the communal prayers that we say reflect our hope and belief that their souls have returned to the One who made them, while their bodies return to the embrace of Mother Earth.

This dual private/communal nature of prayer is not unique to Judaism, but it reflects our human nature – the need to set boundaries, and the need to share, all at the same time.

Wishing everyone Shabbat Shalom!

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