ORDER OF SERVICE
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Lighting Shabbat Candles
Candles are lit on Friday evening to mark the beginning of Shabbat. Traditionally, two candles are lit to represent the words of the commandments relating to Shabbat – "Remember (זכור; zachor) the Sabbath day to sanctify it" (Exodus 20:8), and "Keep (שמור; shamor) the Sabbath day to sanctify it" (Deuteronomy 5:12). One candle is for "Remember" and one is for "Keep."
Some families have a different tradition – to light one candle for each member of the family or to have every family member light their own pair of candles.
The candles can be lit in any order. After lighting the candles, many people have the custom of waving their hands over the candles three times and then drawing their hands over their eyes before reciting the blessing. This can signify many things: drawing God's presence close to us on Shabbat, being aware and grateful to the light in our lives and to our ability to add light to the world on Shabbat or taking the time to reflect on the six days of the week that lead to Shabbat.
The blessing is then recited – either spoken or chanted. After reciting the blessing take a moment to look into the flickering lights, draw a breath, feel the rest of Shabbat surround you and transport you into a time beyond time. Shabbat shalom.
Saying Modeh Ani
We wake up each morning with "I offer thanks to You…" Modeh or Moda ani should be the first words on our lips. It begins our day with gratitude for the fact we are alive. Don't curse the alarm clock when you get up. Instead, thank God! Say the words of this prayer as the first thing you do when your eyes are open. Feel the peace and calm of beginning the day recognizing what a miracle it is just to be alive. Starting the day this way opens our hearts to the blessing of being alive and we prepare ourselves to treat others with humility and kindness.
Mah Tovu is our opportunity to express gratitude for our family, our friends and our entire community. It allows us to remember that we are not alone in the world, that we have our close circle of people that share our journey and that at all times we have God by our side.
Nissim B'chol Yom
Nissim B'Chol Yom
Blessings for Daily Miracles
This series of morning blessings were originally recited in the home as a part of the daily routine of getting up and getting ready for the day. Eventually, the blessings were brought into the daily morning worship service of the synagogue.
You can see within each blessing the particular morning routine to which it refers:
1) A blessing for hearing the rooster crowing in the morning (the pre-modern equivalent of the alarm clock!) and greeting the new day with a optimism and appreciation.
2) A blessing for opening the eyes upon awaking.
3) A blessing for throwing the covers off of the bed in preparation for getting up.
4) A blessing for standing up on two feet.
5) A blessing for feeling the ground under the feet.
6) A blessing for taking the first steps of the day.
7) A blessing for having and putting on clothing.
8) A blessing for feeling fully awake and rested.
9) A blessing for rubbing the sand out of the eyes.
10) A blessing for gratitude for being physically whole.
11) A blessing of gratitude for being physically and spiritually free.
12) A blessing of gratitude for being a Jew.
Most of these blessings serve as a moment of recognition for an activity that we would usually regard as mundane but in reality is a small miracle we should be grateful for. Whether it is the ability to walk, having clothes to wear, or feeling fully awake, each blessing elevates something mundane into the realm of the sacred. In reciting the blessings, we recognize that every moment of our lives is an opportunity to notice the presence of divinity and the miracles that surround us. What an awesome and awe-inspiring way to start the day!
La'asok B'divrei Torah
La’asok B’divrei Torah - The Blessing for the Study of Torah
This blessing is different from the blessing before the ritual of reading from the Torah during the Torah service. This blessing reminds us that studying is not something we do just to become more knowledgeable, but rather that study is itself a spiritual act. We should always aspier to keep growing as individuals. By studying, we become closer to our ideal vision for ourselves and by that, closer to the image in which God created us. We make a blessing before we study Torah to remind ourselves that we are not studying this ancient text just because it is historically significant (even though it is), just because it is literarily magnificent (even though it is), and not even just because it helps us understand Jewish law (even though it does). We study Torah because it sanctifies our lives and helps us discover meaning and purpose in life. Studying Torah draws us closer to God.
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Ashrei (literally meaning happy) is one of the most often repeated prayers in Jewish tradition. In Orthodox practice, a person recites Ashrei at least three times a day, twice in the morning service and once in the afternoon service. In our prayer book, Ashrei is recited only once in the morning service.
Ashrei is made up mostly of Psalm 145. The words of Ashrei mostly praise God for making our lives joyful, for ruling the world with justice, and for providing for all our needs.
At Temple Judea we repeat the first part of the prayer again and again allowing people to share, between repetitions, things in their lives they are grateful for. We recognize that gratitude is not something we are born with, it’s something we have to learn and have to practice every day! Our rabbis ordered us to try and find 100 hundred different things we are grateful for every day! So this repetition and reciting Ashrei can be not only a meditative experience, but one that helps us become better and more grateful people. The specific words of the prayer are not as important as the pleasure of joining with other voices in familiar song.
Hallelu in Hebrew means give praise, Yah is the way we refer to God. This prayer, known as the last of the Psalms (number 150) is a great last opportunity every morning and afternoon to express gratitude to God for all the blessings we have in our lives.
It mentions many different musical instruments that were used in the Temple in Jerusalem to praise God, reminding us that we are all “a musical instrument” that each of us is unique, and that each of us has their own voice to use when praising God.