Episode 9: Palace Enough for Me (Adonai S’fatai Tiftach)

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Our opening question: how do you prepare for prayer? 

(1:01) Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Tzanz was a famous Polish Chassidic Rabbi in the 19th century. You can learn more about his life here

(2:03) Shabbat – שבת – is the Jewish day of rest, lasting from Friday at sundown to Saturday night. Learn more here

(2:24) Pesukei dezimra – פסוקי דזמרה – is a set of prayers recited at the start of the morning service. 

(2:28) Kabbalat shabbat – קבלת שבת – is a set of prayers sung Friday evenings to welcome Shabbat. You can learn more here

(2:30) Yedid nefesh – ידיד נפש – is a poem sung at the beginning of Kabbalat Shabbat, with themes of G?d’s love. You can find the song here

(2:51) Soren Kierkegard was a Danish theologian, famous for being a founder of existentialism. Learn more about his life here.

(3:58) Tefillah – תפילה – prayer.  

(4:03) Siddur – סידור – prayer book. 

(5:21) Niggun – ניגון – is a wordless spiritual melody. 

(6:09) HaTefillah – התפילה – The Prayer, referring to the Amidah – עמידה. Learn some background of the Amidah here.

(6:35) You can find My People’s Prayer Book by Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman here

(6:44) Rabban Gamliel was a leader of the Sanhedrin, an assembly of judges who made early Jewish legal decisions. Learn more here

(6:53) The Talmud is a compendium of Jewish law. Learn more here.

(6:58) Anshei Knesset HaGedolah – אנשי כנסת הגדולה – was a group of scholars who existed between the periods of Biblical Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism. Learn more here.

(7:26) Learn more about the Cairo Geniza here.

 (8:16) Mishnah brachot – משנה ברכות – describes the rabbis’ conversations about how to pray. The conversations about how to recite the Amidah that Josh describes are from Mishnah Brachot 4:3. 

(8:52) Machloket – מחלקת – a disagreement that leads to a discussion. 

(9:26) Halacha – הלכה – the decision about how to practice the law. 

(10:33) Amidah – עמידה – literally means the standing, as we rise as we’re able for this prayer. 

(10:54) Shmona Esrei – שמונה עשרה – literally means 18, referring to the 18 blessings that made up the Amidah.

(12:00) Me’ein sheva – מאין שבע – a blessing someone can say to substitute for the seven middle blessings in the Amidah. 

(12:50) Shacharit – שחרית – morning service. Mincha – מנחה – afternoon service. Maariv – מעריב – evening service.

 Musaf – מוסף – a special service added on Shabbat and holy days, which is a call back to the Temple service. 

Neilah – נעילה – a special service that concludes Yom Kippur. 

(13:46) Kavanah – קוונה – intention. 


אדני שפתי תפתח ופי יגיד תהלתך

 Adonai s’fatai tiftach oofi yagid tehilatecha 

Adonai open up my lips and my mouth will sing your praises. 

(14:58) “A Short Amidah” by Syd Lieberman 

(from Kol Haneshamah: Shabbat Vehagim)

They say we’re supposed to be in a palace.

So we bow and take certain steps

as the prescribed supplication

drops from our lips.

But what do we really know

of castles and kings?

My kitchen faucet constantly leaks

and the kids’ faces

usually need cleaning.

If a door opened to a real palace,

I’d probably forget

and carry in a load of groceries.

No, the door we stand in front of

when the Amidah begins is silence.

And when we open it

and step through,

we arrive in our hearts.

Mine’s not a fancy place,

no jewels, no throne,

certainly not fit for royalty.

But in that small chamber,

for just a few moments,

God and I can roll up our sleeves,

put some schnapps out on the table,

sit down together, and finally talk.

That’s palace enough for me.

(17:57) Psalm 51 can be found here

(21:14) Baruch omer ve’oseh – ברוך אומר ועושה – The Blessed One whose words are deeds. This comes from Baruch Sheamar – ברוך שאמר, a prayer that describes how G?d created the world by speaking into existence.

(22:36) Yihiyu leratzon emrei fi – יהיו לרצון אמרי פי – May the words of my mouth be acceptable to You. 

(22:47) Elohai netzor leshoni meira – אלהי נצור לשוני מרע – G?d protect my tongue from evil. 

(23:08) Psalm 34 can be found here.

מִֽי־הָ֭אִישׁ הֶחָפֵ֣ץ חַיִּ֑ים אֹהֵ֥ב יָ֝מִ֗ים לִרְא֥וֹת טֽוֹב

Mi haeesh hechafetz chaim ohev yamim lirot tov 

The one who is looking for years of good fortune 

נְצֹ֣ר לְשׁוֹנְךָ֣ מֵרָ֑ע וּ֝שְׂפָתֶ֗יךָ מִדַּבֵּ֥ר מִרְמָֽה׃

Netzor leshoncha mera usfatecha midaber mirma 

The person who guards their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 

(29:56) You can find Eliana’s interview with Yoshi here

(31:43) Emile Durkheim was a French founder of sociology. Learn more about his life here.

(32:47) Debbie Friedman’s “Oh God” can be found here.

(34:01) Ken yehi ratzon – כן יהיה רצון – so may it be. 

(35:00) Craig Taubman’s “Adonai S’fatai” can be found here.  

(38:49) Eliana’s “Three Steps” can be found here.

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