The Kosher Bookworm: You do have a prayer


What are the halachos (laws) of Jewish prayer? This is the topic of a new book jointly published by Yeshivat Hat Eztion, the Orthodox Union and Ktav Publishing. Titled, “Hilchot Tefillah: A comprehensive guide to the laws of daily prayer,” the book lives up to its august title.

Based on Yeshivat Har Etzion’s famed Virtual Beit Medrash and written by Rabbi David Brofsky, this comprehensive work of more than 300 pages delivers a detailed compendium of Jewish law that covers just about every facet of the daily observance in Jewish prayer.

Starting with the washing of hands upon waking, this work goes into detail describing every nuance of practice, their origin, and at times, their rationale. Each major prayer is dealt with in a way that will enable even the most casual reader to better understand the basis of Jewish prayer and give true meaning for those who previously found the synagogue service to be boring.

By explaining the purpose of ritual, Rabbi Brofsky makes it possible for us to better practice and understand such previously misunderstood rituals and situations such as what constitutes kavanah during the Shema, the deeper meaning behind Shemonah Esreh, maintaining kavanah during prayer and avoiding distractions.

Also of interest are the reasons behind the personalization of prayer, praying in the vernacular, personal requests and alternatives to the Amidah. The text of the Amidah itself is also given great scrutiny.

Communal prayer is dealt with in the context of the role of the chazzan, the repetition of the Amidah, the proper recitation of the Kedushah, Modim, and Modim De-Rabbanan.

While this work does not contain a bibliography and footnotes, its sources are contained within the main body of the text, thus enabling the reader to pursue further study of this subject.

The author of this work, Rabbi Brofsky has taught Talmud and Jewish Law for many years at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut and at Mevaseret in Jerusalem. Rabbi Brofsky is an alumni of YU and his website on the Virtual Beit Medrash is read by thousands of devoted readers worldwide and is the premier Halachic web-resource today.

Prior to this great book, the Orthodox Union produced a related title, “Making Our Tefillot More Personal and Meaningful,” a collection of 28 articles that had previously appeared in Jewish Action magazine.

Taken together, these two books will most certainly help enhance both the Jewish worshiper in the service and the atmosphere of the synagogue. This work contain a valuable bibliography listing 20 high quality works on Jewish prayer for your edification.