Posted on: January 27, 2012
Working prayer into my life in a meaningful way has been difficult. I struggle with the idea of formalized prayers with prescribed words and informal prayers that come from the heart every day. I think that structure and tradition has its place, but I wonder how they can remain meaningful when they are rushed through for the sake of saving time or recited for because we’re “supposed to”. How devout Muslims make their prayers meaningful five times each day when they’re saying the same thing over and over again. How do traditional Jews make praying three times a day a time to connect with Gd rather than just something that is prescribed?
I remember walking into a Jewish bookstore that was going out of business during 3PM prayer. I was hoping to find a beautiful kiddush cup and felt completely out of place as the small store front filled with kippah-adorned men praying towards the Western Wall that afternoon. I was captivated by the sight of their lips moving, the sound of their prayers, and their devotion. Pangs of jealousy pulsed through my body and I wondered if I would ever get to that place.
As it is, I forget to recite the Sh’ma at night and don’t remember Modeh Ani until I’m in the shower. Being at service on Shabbat seems like a nice catch all, it allows me to spend time in the presence of other Jews and pray with Jews who are just as excited to be sharing the same space as me for the purpose of celebrating Shabbat. But I don’t want to be a Friday night only Jew.
My desire for motherhood is just as much about giving birth and nursing as it is about starting a family and making my own Shabbat traditions. I day dream of the day, Be’ezrat Hashem, that I light candles with my family and make kiddush with my children. For now, Shabbat has become a time to reconnect with my spirit and my connection to Gd, as well as a time to reconnect with my partner.
From The Sabbath by Heschel
One the eve of the Sabbat the Lord gives man neshamah yeterah, additional spirit…Others believed that an actual spiritual entity, a second soul, becomes embodied in(w0)man on the seventh day. “(Wo)man is given on this day an additional, supernal soul, a soul which is all perfection, according to the pattern of the world to come. It is the holy spirit that rests upon (wo)man and adorns him with a crown like the crown of angels”…