Prayer in the Forest

by Chossid August. 31, 2012 7371 views

Talking With G‑d

By Naftali Silberberg

Generally, we use our verbal skills to communicate our needs to others, or to respond to others' needs. There is usually a utilitarian goal in mind – a piece of information we wish to hear, or a request we would like to convey.

But these conversations, as important as they may be, do not do justice to the true power of speech. Speaking serves another, much more potent purpose when the conversation itself, and the connection it creates between people, is the objective. Friends will pick up a phone and call each other simply to keep in touch. The topics discussed are not as significant as the conversation itself Children call their parents, sometimes for a purpose (financial requests are high on the list of “purposes”) – but usually the point of the conversation is just to touch base. A couple newly in love will spend endless hours talking about nothing, anything, and everything. With the advent of Instant Messaging, these conversations often continue through the workday as well (much to the consternation of many an employer). And just as the chat seems to be coming to an end, one of the parties will invariably find yet another “pressing” topic to discuss. Neither wishes to break the bond created by the conversation; neither wants to say “good bye.”

Here we have a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts: the topics discussed are not as significant as the conversation itself.

The above also applies to our daily “conversations” with G‑d – a.k.a. “prayer”. Prayer comes naturally when a person, G‑d forbid, experiences hardships. But passionate prayer when all is (relatively) well is, in a certain sense, a far more meaningful experience. Because our conversations with G‑d serve a dual purpose: they are an opportunity to beseech our Provider for health, prosperity and nachas from our children; but more importantly, they are also moments when we connect with our beloved Father in Heaven. Indeed, to a certain extent, the content of our prayers is less significant than the experience itself–an opportunity to connect with G‑d.

You have His attention; speak as long as you wish! The great sage Rabbi Yochanan summed it up with these words: “If only a person could pray all day long!”

* * * * *

A Jew prays three times a day, whether s/he is in special need of something or not at the moment. These are from our camping trip last summer.

What are those boxes and leather straps on their heads and arms? []

You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. —Deuteronomy 6:8

One has a brain. It is in one world. One's heart is in another. And one's hands often end up involved in something completely foreign to both of them. Three diverse machines.

So one puts on “Tefillin.” First thing in the day, a Jewish male over the age of 13 connects his head, his heart and his hand with these leather cables—all to work as one, with one intent. And then, when one goes out to meet the world, all of one's actions find harmony in a single coordinated purpose…

Tefillin are a pair of black leather boxes containing Hebrew parchment scrolls. A set includes two Tefillin—one for the head and one for the arm. Each consists of three main components: the scrolls, the box and the strap. The scrolls are inserted into boxes made of leather that have been painted black.

One box is strapped on the head, and the other onto the arm, next to the heart. It’s done once a day—preferably during the morning prayers. If that is not practical, one should say at least the passage called the Shema, asserting the unity of G-d. It’s done by Jewish males, age 13 and up, every day except Shabbat and major Jewish holidays…. even on vacation, as here.

This is a shofar, or ram's horn. While many people know that it is blown on Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) and at the culmination of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement,) as I've mentioned before, it is also blown daily in the month preceding Rosh Hashana, to awaken us to repentance.)

Another shofar being blown.

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There are 26 comments , add yours!
Christa 8 years, 5 months ago

Very interesting to know your traditions and religion, thanks for showing us this.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Mikkal Noptek 8 years, 5 months ago

Beautiful portraits. Kind of mystic

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Ej Rodriguez 8 years, 5 months ago

yep nice and informative post! a very nice and quiet place to pray.
thanks for sharing

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Pete 8 years, 5 months ago

best place to pray is in nature.. although G-d is always near He just feels so much nearer in nature

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Chossid 8 years, 5 months ago

And in response to Sonja -- Observant Jews pray three times a day, as well as many other obligations, and voluntary acts of kindness. The vast majority who are brought up like this continue along the same path. In addition, many thousands of Jews, young and old return to our roots, opting to observe the laws and traditions which our assimilated parents and grandparents may have become lax about in both "the golden land" where there is freedom from religion, as well as in countries where it was forbidden to observe these laws and customs.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Chossid 8 years, 5 months ago

In response to Sara -- We omit the middle letter of His name out of respect -- as in 'Do not take the name of the L-rd in vain.' The truth is that on the internet, it might be permitted because it is electronic... but, for example, if His name was written on a piece of paper and then ripped up, thrown in the garbage, lying on the street getting trampled, brought into a bathroom, etc, it would not be respectful.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Moira 8 years, 5 months ago

TFS this report and insight into your traditions and religion.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Chossid 8 years, 5 months ago

In reply to Marie's question as to why only the men are wearing the Tefillin --

Very briefly: Men and women have different but equal roles. The woman is usually more involved with the education and upbringing of her children (and husband ;-) ) This might interfere with time-bound commandments, and is more important. Therefore, women are exempt from most time-bound positive (action) commandments. The Tefillin must be put on by a certain time, early in the morning, every day except on the Sabbath (Saturday.) Therefore we women are exempt. The longer reason can be found [url=,2131955/Why-are-women-exempt-from-time-related-Mitzvahs.html]HERE.[/url]

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Sara G 8 years, 5 months ago

Beautiful and reverent..I enjoy learning about another's faith.Why do you leave the o out of God's name...

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Helen Hooker 8 years, 5 months ago

What an idyllic spot for prayers.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Tomie Poodle 8 years, 5 months ago

great portraits! no better place for prayers.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Josy 8 years, 5 months ago

I appreciate to read your information, me which knows nothing about the religions !

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Dannii L 8 years, 5 months ago

Beautiful portraits!

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Finbarr 8 years, 5 months ago

Wonderful post !!

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Dave 8 years, 5 months ago

Beautiful... and what better place for prayer than in a forest surrounded by nature and all that has been given to us.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Kecskemétiné Nelli 8 years, 5 months ago

Very inspiring. I just recognised how true this verse is:
"Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37,4)

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Sonja 8 years, 5 months ago

This is wonderful, it is always beautiful to see people still so dedicated to religion. As you say this is a daily practice, and I do not know enough young adults willing to put in the time as these gentlemen do :)

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Eiram Marie 8 years, 5 months ago

There is always something touching about praying people...wonderful post. Leah, why are only men wearing the leather straps?

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 8 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing all that information.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Olga Helys 8 years, 5 months ago

We, Humanity, are nothing without G-d
Thanks so much:)

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Huiching 8 years, 5 months ago

This is interesting. Thanks for opening my eyes.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Francesc 8 years, 5 months ago

Interesting post and shots!

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Dan Ravasio 8 years, 5 months ago

Leah, I enjoy soooo much the meticulous job that you do to tell us about your traditions and practices.... I have learned so much here. And your shots here, as in every post like this make your words come alive in today's world.... As always, the picture of the Good Rabbi warms my heart... To my faves. I remember him praying at the art show....

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Sadhya Rippon 8 years, 5 months ago

I always appreciate your posts giving us insight into your religious beliefs and ancient customs. Thank you Leah.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Roger 8 years, 5 months ago

I love your posts like this

8 years, 5 months ago Edited
Marilyn Grimble 8 years, 5 months ago

Informative post ... Thank you!
It's quite clear your arms, hands and head are in harmony - the portraits are indeed those of prayer.

8 years, 5 months ago Edited