Monday, December 17, 2012
Prayer. Personal Prayer.
The Amidah is one of those prayers that holds great meaning and experience to me. If I do not get to daven the Amidah, then it is as if I have not davened at all. One of my favorite parts is at the very end. When I dug a little deeper, I found out that the part that is my favorite is not actually even part of the Amidah. It is a "personal prayer" example that in the Sim Shalom Siddur is linked directly with and as part of the Amidah.The universal nature of that prayer has made it a part of the liturgical text as opposed to that spot being a private prayer/meditation.
In Gemara [Berakhot 16b-17a], the private prayers that some of the rabbis added as their personal prayers directly after the Amidah are featured. One of them, the one that is my favorite, was composed by Amora, Mar bar Ravina (4th century CE), In the Siddur Sim Shalom, it is on page 120.
My God, keep my tongue from evil, my lips from lies. Help me ignore those who would slander me. Let me be humble before all. Open my heart to Your Torah, that I may pursue Your mitzvot. Frustrate the designs of those who plot evil against me; make nothing of their schemes...
This prayer has especially been a comfort to me for the past few years as we work as a family to crush lashon hara in our household, and actively troubleshoot the way in which we can avoid participating in it (see list of past blog entries concerning it after the picture below). Recently, it is also a reminder that I should not give in to the urge to do damage control since those who know me will surely not believe any slander, those who only partially know me but are confused about something they heard can always ask me and I am happy to clarify, and lastly, those who don't know me will surely at some point meet me and make up their own mind.
In doing the research on this, I found other examples of personal prayer that are equally good (see below for past blogs dealing with prayer). This one is from Rabbi Eleazer and is what he often said for his personal prayer.
May it be Your will, O Lord our God, to cause to dwell in our lot love and brotherhood and peace and friendship, and may You make our borders rich in disciples and prosper our latter end with good prospect and hope, and set our portion in Paradise, and confirm us with a good companion and a good impulse in Your world, and may we rise early and obtain the yearning of our heart to fear Your name, and may You be pleased to grant the satisfaction of our desires.
I love that this prayers calls us to dwell in our lot, with love, community, peace and friendship. It reaches for a healthy dose of hope, for our impulse to be that which is good, and to keep the yearning of our hearts. All of these things are necessary to be a healthy, well adjusted adult.
Another one is from R. Alexandri. On concluding his prayer, he added the following:
May it be Thy will, O Lord our God, to station us in an illumined corner and do not station us in a darkened corner, and let not our heart be sick nor our eyes darkened!
I especially like this one. Place us in corner that brings out our light, not someplace where we cannot shine. I love the translated language of this a lot, and that it is short but beautiful.
I wish that Siddur Sim Shalom listed more of the concluding private prayers. There might be some days when one seems more appropriate than another. My personal practice is that right before I daven the personal prayer of Amora, Mar bar Ravina, I lift my siddur to cover my eyes, and I engage in the prayer from the soul. What prayer in the siddur touches you?
Past blog entries that include the theme of lashon hara.
Past blog entries that include the theme of prayer.