A mother and daughter with little background in Jewish learning wanted to explore Jewish prayer together with their TorahTutors tutor. They began with the question: “If you had never heard of prayer, would it occur to you to do it?”
A midrash suggests it did occur to the first human in the world, and that God waited to fully create vegetation until Adam recognized a need and thought to pray for rain. (See Rashi’s comments on Genesis 2:5.) This midrash served as a springboard to discuss the role and experience of prayer in human life. They then narrowed their discussion to specifically Jewish prayer traditions: Berachot 26b tells us it also occurred to each of the three Patriarchs to pray, each of them at a different time of day, paving the way for the later Sages to establish three daily prayer services.
In addition to the different times of day, the prayer of each of the Patriarchs is connected to a different word in the Torah text: Avraham “stood” before God (Gen. 19:26); Yitzchak “conversed” (ibid. 24:63); and Yaakov “encountered” (ibid. 28:10).
What kind of prayer experience is suggested by each of these verbs?
Prayer, Torah study – these are experiences that contain both universal and individual elements.
Check out TorahTutors.org to see what kind of individualized Torah learning experiences are possible with our educators – about prayer or anything else, whatever your background.
A Tuesday TorahTutors Tidbit: Real Torah, from real TorahTutors sessions.