And the beat goes on ….(29a-29b)

The setting here is the Shemoneh Esrei prayer … the prayer that has 18 blessings, or 19 blessings, or 7 blessings …depending on the day and depending on what and how you count. It is also called the Amida (“standing prayer”) and it is also called The Prayer (with a capital “P”). This prayer is important. You need to say it right and the Rabbis discuss what to do if you make a mistake and what to do if you’re interrupted and what to do if you don’t have time to say the whole Prayer because you are in a dangerous place and what to do if you don’t get the order of prayers right.

And as we wrestle along with them we read “Do not believe in yourself until the day you die” lest you turn out like Yochanan the Kohen Gadol (check out 29a for the details). Some may read this as overly harsh; others as a reflection of a deep humility and the awareness that each and every day we humans wrestle with the yetzer ha’ra (some days easier than others) and need to decide which way to go. You decide which reading speaks to you.

But whatever you do make sure that your prayer is not “fixed” so lacking in presence, connection, and emotion that you only go though the motions and say the words without intention or mindfulness. Yes.

There are some other wonderful pieces here and I note them for another time … a discussion of the “tefillat haderech” (the traveler’s prayer) and the one who prays “during the redness of the sun” …

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