Passover is taking place in April and – if you’re a newly converted Jew or have just begun to be a practicing member of the Jewish community – this is a good time to understand more about the act of prayer in the religion and how exactly you should do it.
Jewish prayer isn’t just about kneeling and closing your eyes, not if you are doing it traditionally. Infact, you have probably noticed that many in the community have a number of accompaniments that aid them during the process.
If you’re not sure exactly what these are or what they mean, here is a list of some of the objects that are used during Jewish prayer and why exactly they are used:
A prayer shawl – or a tallit – is a garment that is worn during prayer, designed to create a sense of personal space so it is just you and God.
This is ordered in the Book of Numbers, with ancient tradition stating that a single strand of blue is included in the shawl to serve as a reminder of Jewish obligations and duties. The tallit is put on around the shoulders – or covering the head – and before this is done, it is customary to say a blessing.
The use of tallit clips are also an appropriate accessory to go with the prayer shawl, ensuring the tallit remains in place across the chest and the intention and direction of the prayer is not interrupted.
As well as this, it is a traditional act to wear what is known as a “kippah” upon the roof of the head. This is essentially a way to show respect for God, as the Talmund states that covering the head will stop the “fear of heaven” from being rained upon you.
It doesn’t matter so much what fabric is used. So long as the head is covered, you will be honoring God and respecting those ancient traditions.
Obviously, if you are looking to pray more often – and specifically for Passover – you will need a Torah with you to reference from and read. The Torah is a compilation of five religious books, all from the Hebrew Bible. The books include Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Another accessory that you can utilise during prayer is tefillin. This is a pair of black, leather boxes that contain pieces of Hebrew parchment scrolls. In the Torah, it is commanded that Jewish men bind themselves with tefillin – onto their head and around their arm – in fulfillment of the Deuteronomy verses. The passages themselves are about the unity of God and the miracles that were performed in order to take the Jews away from Egypt.
Doing this is known as “performing the mitzvah of tefillin” and it is said to be one of the most religious and spiritual activities, with many having stated that wearing tefillin changed their life. In terms of prayer, it is customary to recite a blessing and then a Shema prayer, with the act itself often taking place during weekday mornings.
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