From Self-Interest to Self-Surrender: Confronting the Challenges of Prayer

A webinar with Dr. Benjamin D. Sommer, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages, JTS.

Part of the series: Faith, Forgiveness, and Prayer: Preparing for the Days of Awe.

Why do many modern Jews find tefillah so difficult? We’ll grapple with this question by exploring attitudes toward prayer among thinkers including Rambam and Heschel, and we’ll contrast assumptions about what makes for a genuine and meaningful prayer in Jewish tradition and in American culture. In particular, we’ll discuss our expectations of what happens when we pray and the possibilities that emerge when we don’t put ourselves at the center of the prayer experience. Along the way, we will touch on Thomas Aquinas, Quakerism, Thomas Merton, and yoga, and the light they shed on traditional Jewish conceptions of prayer.

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