Prayer is an intimate conversation of the heart. It is a personal discussion with the Almighty, a laying bare of one’s innermost insecurities and needs. Nevertheless, Jewish prayer follows a standardized structure accompanied with universal detailed rules that seem dizzying to the uninitiated.
Many synagogue attendees are content knowing how to pray—when to sit or stand, when to speak or remain silent, et cetera. For them, a digest of laws, the type found in siddur instructions, is sufficient because it allows them to participate fully in Jewish prayer. Others, however, want to know where the rules come from. They want to understand the underlying logic and know about the different opinions.
Rabbi David Brofsky’s new book, Hilchot Tefilla: A Comprehensive Guide to the Laws of Daily Prayer, amply satisfies the needs of such individuals. Weaving together halachic, philosophical and historical analyses, this book follows the development of the laws of prayer from the earliest sources in the Talmud, through the Rishonim and Acharonim, to the modern-day halachic decisors, always reaching a practical conclusion.
Rabbi Brofsky’s clear prose allows any reader, regardless of background, to benefit from comprehensive discussions of the laws of prayer.