By Ronn Torossian
Rabbi Avi Weiss’ book, Holistic Prayer: A Guide To Jewish Spirituality offers a unique and special vantage point into Judaism. This thoughtful, understandable classic offers insight into how one can achieve the most connectedness to prayer, to higher levels of holiness through prayer – dialogue or rapport with G-d. While Rabbi Avi Weiss speaks to a wide variety of audiences in this book, anyone seeking deeper meaning in life – and prayer and the Jewish people – will enjoy this book. As Rabbi Weiss’ states, he desires through this book to reach the “..heart, that it inspire fullness of life, spiritual striving, and prayer that is whole – holistic prayer.”
As he asks, “How does one infuse spirituality into life, into ritual…?” Discussing the times of prayer, and the meaning of prayer, one better understands how logical everything in Judaism is. Interspersed with touching stories from Rabbinical giants, we understand that “the conclusion of the amida, the central part of the service, is a blessing for peace and loving-kindness.” So deep, special and indeed meaningful. As the renowned New-York based Rabbi details, prayer allows people to “increase our personal commitment to G-d, our people and humankind.” By better understanding the meaning of what we say, it helps us better understand aspects and meanings of prayer. Each of us has struggled at times to find meaning in prayer. Certainly, I have sat through countless absolutely boring religious services that I found myself leaving well before the end as it felt devoid of meaning. Whether it’s the speed of prayer, the style of prayer, or something else altogether sometimes it just doesn’t click. As this book acknowledges repeatedly, meaning and connectedness in prayer is vital.
Readers of Holistic Prayer: A Guide To Jewish Spirituality will come away with a better understanding of how to best connect with faith and belief. They will achieve a glimpse into understanding the pure essence of prayer. There are so many different ways to achieve spirituality, and this book offers a unique, and inspiring manner to better understand the meaning of prayer – and insight into how to find the spark to light your fire.
For me, praying and meditating often allows me inner peace and balance. I particularly enjoy prayer at the Carlebach Shul – where the singing allows me to feel spiritually connected. For everyone they have unique manners to connect – whether through study groups, lighting candles or other manners. The trick is to find your way to best connect. Rabbi Avi Weiss’ explains at the end of the chapter entitled “Goals Of Prayer”: “To have faith means to live and encounter G-d at all times, in all places, walking in His ways. This is the mission of Judaism, and the innermost core.” I also particularly enjoyed the chapter on spirituality, where he defines the word as: “Spirituality means having consciousness of the moment while recognizing G-ds role in that moment. In other words, spirituality is being in the moment while feeling G-d’s presence.”
As he explains, “The purpose of this book, in its broadest sense, is to find meaning in prayer. In a world where prayer has become void of soul, this book attempts to fill that void.” This very special book allows readers to connect intellect with emotion, the heart with the soul, and their very essence to a higher being. Holistic Prayer: A Guide To Jewish Spirituality is a book which belongs in every Jewish home. It should be earmarked, highlighted, studied and enjoyed.
Ronn Torossian is a public relations executive, and author of “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations.