«      »

Three Basic Jewish Prayers

by Neal Walters

Perhaps the most well-known Jewish prayer is the “Shema”. This prayer is recited twice per day (morning and evening). The prayer is translated as “Hear Israel”, and refers to the entire verse “Hear O Israel, the Lord Thy God, the Lord is One.”

Even the New Testament quotes the Shema. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is asked by a scribe “What is the greatest commandment”. He replied with the “Shema”.

Brachot, or blessings, are associated with almost every Jewish event. The sabbath begins Friday evening, when the “bracha” (blessing) is said over the lighting of two (or more candles). This is followed by a short blessing over a cup of wine, and then the bread.

Officially, the candle-lighting blessing should occur 18 minutes before sunset on Friday. The Torah forbids “kindling a fire” on the Sabbath, so the day is marked by lighting a candle immediately before it begins, and ends with lighting a candle at the Havdalah service (see below).

One of the most loved songs of Friday night is “Lecha Dodi”, which literally means “Come My Beloved”. The theme of this song is the bride and bridegroom – the Jewish people and God. It was composed in 1571 by Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz, renowned for his wisdom and poetry.

The Havdalah service marks the end of Shabbat. It should be performed no earlier than nightfall on Saturday night. Nightfall is the time when three stars can be seen in the sky. It is normally about 45 minutes to an hour after sundown, depending on your latitude.

The word “Havdalah” itself come from the root word “L’HAVDIL” which means to separate or distinguish. The brief ceremony includes three “brachot” (blessings) over wine, spices, and fire. A special Havdalah candle is used that has several wicks; it is usually extinguished in the wine cup, or some wine that is poured into the saucer.

The brief Havdalah ceremony typically concludes with the song “Eliyahu HaNavi” (Elijah the Prophet). The song goes as follows: “Elijah the Prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah, Elijah, Elijah the Gileadite, Speedily and in our days, Come to us, With the messiah, son of David, With the messiah, son of David.

About the Author:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Stay Up to Date with TheHolyStory News!
    Get Your TheHolyStory News here!
    * indicates required
  • Categories
  • Search the Net from here!
    Custom Search
WP Flex by WP Queen
Wordpress theme developed by Simpler Computing and others - Wordpress and WPMU Plugins, custom code and more.