The Way Into Jewish Prayer

by Lawrence A. Hoffman. Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004.

Using Jewish history and thought as a foundation, 'The Way into Jewish Prayer' explains the why, how, where, what, and when of Jewish prayer. Author Lawrence Hoffman introduces the reader to the power and subtlety of Jewish prayer by exploring its historical and philosophical contexts. Drawing on both modern philosophers and medieval thinkers, the author moves through explaining concepts of God (why), to understanding the Jewish prayer service (how), to appreciating the synagogue and communal prayer (where), to exploring deeper meanings inside the main prayers (what), to describing the Jewish calendar and the yearly cycle (when). Throughout much of the book, Hoffman applies the spiritual concept of being a “prayerful person,” and helps the reader put concepts like prayerfulness and spiritual spontaneity into a Jewish context. 'The Way into Jewish Prayer' is a useful tool for both those unfamiliar with Jewish ideas and worship and advanced students wishing to enrich their practice. The book could be used in introductory classes on Judaism, or individual chapters could be adapted for in-depth study of philosophy, history, spirituality, holidays, and ritual.