The How & Why of Jewish Prayer -A Guidebook for Men and Women
by Israel Rubin Published by Arba Kanfot Press (731 pages)
Reviewed by Voices Magazine
For any newcomer to a synagogue, the experience of prayer surrounded by tallit-clad men or head-scarf-covered women may seem very daunting.
He should worry nisht. Israel Rubin’s How and Why of Jewish Prayer will help him every step of the way, including the different greetings or salutations that might come his way, the proper attire for the synagogue, when to stand, sit or bow, and even what to do if his prayer book falls, or he comes late to shul.
Israel Rubin holds the hand of the worshipper through the daily and holiday prayer services. Nothing is left out – from the exact way to don tefillin, the posture one should have during prayer, details for each specific prayer, what to do during an Aliya to the Torah, how to perform Hagba or Gelila (lifting and rolling up the Torah), and moreover how to conduct oneself at home from the moment he wakes up until he recites the Shema and is off to bed.
In a very readable user-friendly manner, this guidebook for Tefilla Novices covers every base possible to make the mechanics of prayer completely understandable. And although Israel Rubin says his aim is not to explain the spiritual or halachic aspect of prayer, his words do indeed deliver insight into the meaning of prayer and our relationship with the One Above.
While Prayer Beginners will find this book fascinating and essential to their approach to prayer, every Jew who prays will find that this Guidebook makes his practice of prayer more meaningful, as well.
Not a detail of home or synagogue life, connected with prayer, is omitted. Even the appendices on psalms, the Jewish calendar, women’s prayer, life cycles and more, could have been their own book. No review could do justice to Israel Rubin’s mammoth tome, A Guidebook for Men and Women – The How and Why of Jewish Prayer. You will simply be awed by the depth and the breadth of this guide to prayer.