Grace After Bread
Wherever Jews live in accordance with their traditions, they are united at “all the ends of the earth” by similar forms of prayer. They share the Bible with many others, but their prayers belong to them alone. And this holds true not only today; in many cases it has been true for nearly two thousand years. A British scholar recently showed me an excerpt from the Jewish Eighteen Benedictions that had caught his fancy in a collection of the proverbs of different peoples. It was as if I had come upon my mother’s picture in a gallery of strange portraits.
These prayers, with their elemental simplicity, their plain vitality, their fervent but never declamatory passion, have always been the Jew’s first and most direct teacher. It is in their strains above all that he has found self-resignation and pride, the strength to bear up under life’s hardest blows, and glamor in the dullest monotony of everyday existence.
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