Outline for Shabbat morning davenen


This is my own personal take on the sequence of the Shabbat morning service. I have drawn from several siddurim (prayerbooks), from Orthodox, through Jewish Renewal to UK Reform and Liberal. I have included most of the big ‘set pieces’ of what happens in a service, as well as some of the more minor details and sequences. The idea was to try and give both an overview of the journey (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) that we take in the service, as well as emphasising what we could choose as the inner intention or purpose of each moment / movement within the grand design. These ideas are a patchwork created from different commentators (ancient and very recent), as well as my own musings. The elements in green are prayers or texts that we often sing in my Jewish Renewal community, the London Ruach Chavurah.

At the end of this page, there is a short bibliography of some resources that I find enormously useful for a) exploring the purposes, methods and experience of prayer, and b) learning about the structure of the siddur and forms of Jewish worship.

Tips on kavanah, intention, prayer and blessing

  • Slow down. Make space for listening, feeling, thinking, experiencing, responding.
  • Make space for God.
  • Attend to the quality of the space and awareness after a prayer / song / chant.
  • In personal prayer do what works for us. In communal prayer, as far as we feel we can, be open to what the group is doing (pray to be receptive to what happens in communal prayer)
  • “Intend in your heart what you release from your lips” Shulchan Aruch
  • Keep continuity and focus in the ‘in-between’ moments. Yitzchak Buzbaum “Continuity produces depth”.
  • Allow ourselves to be changed by the davenen experience.
  • If we feel resistance, study the resistance for the insight it might bring.
  • Tunes are prayers – we’re not singing, we’re davening. Niguns can help us tune in.
  • Hineini ‘Here I am’- Pray with spirit, intellect, emotion and body. Come as we are, not as we think we should be.
  • Prayers draw God-energy towards us
  • Accept the Jewish myth of a God, and pray – personally and emotionally – to God as ‘You’, not as an idea.
  • My 10 categories of prayer: thank you, wow, promise, hineini, sorry, ouch, please, bless, no, yes
  • Amen! – emunah = faith/loyalty. With amen, we cast our vote. Saying amen with the right kavanah is a spiritual discipline in itself.
  • If I lose the shviti (keeping God in the forefront of my awareness), then I am no longer the ba’al t’fillah (the master/leader of prayer)
  • Shliach tzibbur (‘representative of the community’ who leads the prayer) needs to feel the community is there to be represented. We must make our support palpable. Tzibbur is tzadi-beit-reish: this represents the tzaddik righteous one, the benoni the one ‘in-between’ righteousness and evil, and the rashi evil one; prayer leader represents all three, and embodies all three aspects in themselves.
  • Begin davennen by loving the neighbours praying around us.
  • Give ourselves permission to space out, to be taken by a moment of text.
  • Blessing: tune in before we bless; we are not blessing, but bringing God’s blessing down (we become a channel); make blessing specific, not general; the blessing ‘triangle’ (a) whatever is being blessed is given holy intention and connection, (b) by me bringing (c) God into it.
  • Sit after praying, and take stock of the experience.

1. Physical world (Assiyah)

Kavanah: body-opening; making a physical connection with God; physiology and biology; breath; body; senses; movement; earthed-ness, groundedness; myself as object of Creation; a strong sense of the personal me; my God-relationship is I-It; physical awareness and thanks; body as metaphor; God is One, and All, to me; physical connection with others; what does my body reveal to me; preparing in the outer courtyard for journeying to the Presence in the holy of holies.

  • On waking up: Thank you for my soul and breath – Modeh Ani (Modeh Ani/Massey)
  • Hands; openings; Torah; y’varech’cha (receiving flow of light and shalom from God)
  • Principle mitzvot (actions in the world) are to honour parents, be kind, study, offer hospitality, visit the sick (bikkur cholim), provide for the bride (think of this metaphorically as providing for the Shechinah in-dwelling presence of God in the world), bring peace (shalom) between people.
  • Tzitzit – remembering mitzvoth / commandments – through our actions we live the spirit of God
  • Tallit – I wrap myself in the 3 holy garments of thought (machshavah), word (dibbur) and deed (ma’aseh), committing each to God’s service
  • T’fillin – betrothal to God (Hosea 2:21-22) – God in my awareness (eyes) and my actions (hands)
  • The soul that God has given me is pure; my essence as a human being is that I am loved, worthy of love, and have the potential to do good: Elohai N’shamah (four verbs have a specially sounded breathy ‘h’ at the end, marked in by the 2nd century Rabbis) (Elohai N’shamah/Massey)
  • Morning blessings (including the metaphors for the physical gifts) – a) I imagine ourselves as Adam and Eve coming into awareness for the first time, on our first day. B) Whatever God gives us in these blessings, we can also ‘pay forward’ to others (NB message to Abraham “You will be a blessing” Gen. 12:2):
    • Understanding
    • giving me a unique place in the world
    • not being a slave [matir asurim­ from the ‘fear of the imprisoned’ – imprisoned limbs, but also people, minds, or imprisonment in pain-ridden body]
    • making me as I am
    • [in]sight [as Moses eyes were opened at the burning bush]
    • clothes [literally, and gives me dignity, also 3 holy garments – the arumim clothes for Adam and Eve came through the consciousness they were drawn to by the actions of the arum serpent]
    • straighten the bent [‘uprightness’ yashar makes me ‘happy’ ashreiAmidah we ‘straighten’ the 18 bones in our spine as we stand]
    • grounds me in the midst of emotional turbulence [earth and water]
    • provides me with all I need [I can accept my lot, and still help provide for others]
    • fortifies me to walk a good path
    • gives my people strength to play their part in Creation, the web of life, Gaia
    • honours my people / community alongside others
    • strengthens the weary [in body, heart, mind, spirit]
    • wakes me up
    • keeps me aware of and away from sin.
  • Be kind and merciful – requesting God, and reminding ourselves to express these qualities
  • Offerings: I offer from myself, and from what I have received, in service of God.
  • On entering synagogue, or place of prayer, or to spontaneously create a place and time of prayer: Mah tovu – How good is the place where God dwells; and God dwells everywhere if we are prepared (like Jacob dreaming of the ladder to heaven) to notice this. (Mah Tovu No.2/Massey)

2. Emotional world (Yetzirah)

Kavanah: heart-opening; making an emotional connection with God; my God-relationship is I-you; I-you relationship with community; a strong sense of the communal; orientation to affirm the value, and a vision of, a good / better world; orientation to life, to recognize the good, look for it, evoke it, create it, and amplify it; gratitude, joy, warmth; sing, dance, recite, chant, creativity; my body becomes a merkavah chariot for my feelings; moving from the outer courtyard to the inner courtyard.

  • Acknowledge the goodness of God in the 13 Attributes (Adonai, Adonai el rachum v’chanun)
  • P’sukei d’zimra (verses of song) – structure: starts with Baruch She’amar (which describes key attributes of the Who we are addressing), ends with Yishtabach (15 ways praising Whom we have attempted to describe), and has praise psalms 145-150 in the middle – to open up the conversation with God and establish relationship / rapport
    • Orientate towards positivity first: Psalm 30 (Aromim’cha Adonai ki dilitani): “You have lifted me up … I cried to You and you healed me … You brought me up from the pit … you kept me alive … make music to God … joy comes in the morning … You turned my mourning into dancing … I will not be silent … I will give thanks to You.”
    • Mourner’s Kaddish: my losses must not tempt me to break my God-connection. I affirm God as life and positive; otherwise I cannot praise. (Kaddish/Massey)
    • Baruch she’amar: “Blessed is He who spoke and the world came into being”. Thanks for creation of the world, our home. Focus on goodness of God and the good things is not naiviety. It is about affirming the God and world we would like, ie intentional [and creational] prayer. (Song at the Sea says Zeh Eli – defines this is the God we want.) We bring a good world into our vision and therefore closer to manifestation in the world of action, if we speak goodness. [Reb Zalman calls this “dialing up God” or “logging on”.]
    • Hineh matov (Ps 133 how good and pleasant for brothers and sisters to dwell together) – loving the neighbours praying around us
    • Ashrei yoshvei (mostly Ps 145) – (Ps 84:5 Happy are those who dwell in the house of God);  a letter of the alephbeit begins each verse, ie the whole of Creation praises God; and we praise everything about the Creator and Creation; there is no verse beginning with nun (so there is no ‘fallen-ness’ present); we try to use every part of ourselves from aleph to tav, to express God. Ashrei = Happy [upright]. Ashrei is the happiness when we go / feel straight yashar, and tall, when we ‘dwell in God’s house’ (Ashrei/Massey)
    • Psalm 92Mizmor shir l’yom hashabbat – ‘A psalm to sing for the Sabbath day’ – vv 1-6 celebrate God’s constancy, greatness as Creator, and spiritual depth, and the people who rejoice in God; vv7-8 contrast this with people who cut themselves off from God, are destructive, and ultimately fail; v9 central verse at the heart of the psalm v’atah marom l’olam YHVH Only You are exalted forever Eternal One; vv10-12 echo vv 7-8 in seeing how the wicked ultimately lose out; vv 13-16 echo opening verses, with final verse affirming God as faithful and our Rock. [Ps 92 = God’s dominion over humanity; Ps 93 = over Nature)
      • Tov l’hodot (Ps 92:1-5) It is good to praise God.
      • Mah gadlu (Ps 92:6-7) How great are your works. (Mah Gadlu/Massey)
      • Tzaddik katamar (Ps 92:13-16) The righteous bloom like a date palm.
    • Essa einai (Ps 121) I lift my eyes to God. (Essa Einai/Massey)
    • (Optional: Hodu ladonai ki tov, ki l’olam chasdo Ps 118:1-4 “Give thanks to God, for He is good; his loving-kindness endures forever”)
    • Halleluyah – praise God (Ps 146-150). Praise psalms are there to be sung and played – don’t fall silent! Ps 148 All Creation praises. Ps 150 a) Kol ha-n’shamah, t’hallel yah b) Hall’lu.– everything that has soul-breath, praise God.
    •  L’cha adonai hag’vurah “yours is the greatness” (I Chron. 29:10-13) Synonyms for all the lower sefirot and ‘faces’ of God.
    • Nehemiah: ‘You made everything, and gave us life’. We can ‘pay forward’ what we have received and give to others.
    • Shirat Hayam Song at the Sea (Ex 14:30-15:19) Ozi v’zimrat yah (God is my strength and song Ex. 15:2 – lovely version by Shefa Gold, adapted here) and Mi chamocha (Who is like You? Implied answer: nobody. Ex. 15:11) (Mi chamocha/Massey)
    • Nishmat kol chai (various psalms – let every living being bless your name) (seen as the beginning of Yishtabach on Shabbat)
    • Yishtabach – Your name be praised. The verbs are reflexive – although we have tried to describe and praise God, ultimately that is beyond our power, and only God can describe and praise Godself. YH=15 – 15 types of music / praise [we must/can have variety in musical liturgy] (15 ‘steps’ in Pesach seder) – We take 15 steps upwards to the Temple, to the next stage in the prayer journey …

3. Mental world (Beriah)

Kavanah: mind-opening; making an intellectual connection with God; theology and psychology; balance faith with reason, research, learning, knowing, thinking through; my God-relationship is s/he-me (She-ma: Zalman); guided meditation, visualization; my intellect is supported by the foundations of body and feeling; formally acknowledging each other, our place in the whole of Creation, and then our specific role as Jews. Know the Oneness of God, all people and all Creation, the commandment to love, and to keep this knowledge alive down the generations; a strong sense of relationship to our people in the past, present and future, all people, and all the created world. We have moved from the outer courtyard, through the inner courtyard, to the holy area.

  • Bar’chu (various versions, including Aronson ‘Am I awake’):
    • gateway to the prayer service, and communal prayer
    • “unlocking the knees can unlock the heart as well”.
    • If God is both blessed, and the fount of blessing, then God blesses God; this models how we can affirm our own life. We return the blessing we receive.
    • We meet God directly, and we meet God in those around us. Midrash: whichever direction of the compass we are at, we are advised to pray facing the other direction – this means that, when praying in a group, we all face in towards the middle, and therefore all face each other in prayer.
  • Yotzeir Or: 1st Sh’ma blessing – Creator of Creation (Yotzeir Or/Massey)
    • situates us in the cosmos; chesed generosity/abundance; possessor of all; lights in the sky [enlightens]; glory k’vod is apparent in all that is created; God renews everything daily [moment by moment – creating, creating, creating, creating …]; God is physically present in the physicality of Creation
    • What part of the physical world do we notice we trust or marvel at right now?
  • Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh (Isa. 6:3) Zalman Shachter-Shalomi (z”l): Kadosh 1 = God’s holiness experienced by us, kadosh 2 = highest conceivable holiness, kadosh 3 = holiness beyond comprehension; followed by Baruch k’vod Adonai mim’komo Blessed be God’s glory from the place of God.
  • Ahavah Rabbah: 2nd Sh’ma blessing – Revealer of Revelation
    • God as Source of love; learning, insight; unify our hearts (yetzer tov and yester ra), to love and fear (feel awe), and not feel inner shame; live the Torah (and to do so is an act of love).
    • Love is a creative force – it makes things happen [cf my poem ‘God has said it’]
    • What insight, truth or learning have I received recently?
  • Sh’ma listen to what God is saying to me – ‘Listen all you who struggle with the Infinite’.
    • 1st para is singular – each person of whatever faith is addressing One and the same God. 2nd para is plural, so we make a communal connection.
    • A) Listen with our whole self, and this will lead to loving and Oneness with God, Creation and others. Keep listening to and for the revelation mentioned in the ahavah rabbah blessing, maintaining consciousness of this so we come to embody it. B) Teach by example and dialogue. C) Create physical reminders (innovate as often as necessary – ‘renew daily’). Summary: Listening, sharing / teaching, reminding self, and embodying are what truly liberate us to truly live.
    • Meditation: say sh’ma 4 times: 1) Moses to all, 2) Moses to me, 3) me to another, 4) my deathbed
    • Rashi – intensive (2 beits in l’vav’cha) à yetzer tov and ra must love God
    • M’odecha – with all your ‘very’
  • Ge’ulah / Emet: 3rd Sh’ma blessing – Redeemer through Redemption
    • Mi chamocha Song at the Sea – last week and next week – what is redemptive, liberating. (Who is like You? Implied answer: nobody. Ex. 15:11) (Mi chamocha/Massey)
    • Who or what brought help, rescue, good fortune recently? (They may not have known they were the agent of this.)
    • Adonai yimloch l’olam va’ed [chorus of Mi chamocha/Massey] “God alone will rule forever and ever”. This is an absolutely key text in the daily liturgy. We say it every day: this statement at the Red Sea when the Israelites felt free of the Egyptians, was a shirah chadashah ‘new song’, the first time we, as a people, acknowledged the sovereignty of God. The YHVH (compassionate God) principle rules because we insist on this, and evoke it collectively, with determination, very day.
    • The Emet (true) prayer describes God 15 ways: firm, established, enduring, right, faithful, beloved, cherished, delightful, pleasant, awesome, mighty, perfect, accepted, good, beautiful (gematria of Yah/YH=15)

4. Spiritual world (Atzilut)

Kavanah: spirit-opening; making a soul-connection with God; metaphysics and mysticism; experiencing a spark of God’s fire; my God-relationship is ‘I Am’-me (we are One and the same); body / heart / mind communicate to and through spirit / soul; soul relays God to mind / heart / body; Holy of holies. Amidah is the highlight, stepping into the Presence. Spiritually ‘activated’ by this, we then study Torah, to receive revelation / insight.

  • Shabbat Amidah (‘standing’ prayer): intense, precise, heartfelt prayers – from our highest place of awareness. Make the Amidah our own – it is only a template. (Weekday petitions: list prayer items and bring them to God.) Pray to whatever ‘face’ of God you can connect to. Structure of 7 blessings: 3 prayers of praise to enter the royal Presence (“You are the God of our fathers; You are the merciful Provider and Protector; You are God and Ultimate, and not influenced by earthly considerations.”); 1 prayer for the holiness of Shabbat (instead of 13 petitions / requests); 3 prayers of thanks to take our leave of the royal Presence (“We hope You enjoyed our prayers, and that they encouraged You to bring Your presence here; thanks for being our constant rock and shield; thanks for shalom.”). Uninterrupted, silent, audible to self but not others– based on Hannah “lips moved but her voice was not heard” (I Sam 1:13)
    • Adonai s’fatai tiftach (several versions) (Ps 51) Signing on for the Amidah. Midrash about David who is penitent after Nathan reveals David’s sin of getting Uriah killed for in order to get access to Uriah’s wife Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:12). God-in-me addresses God; God prays to God. I look at me through God’s eyes, as God sees me. ‘Open my lips’ of my heart and mind, as well as body, so that I speak what really needs to be shared.
    • 1. Avot (ancestors) – connect to history, lineage, tradition. We don’t discard what has come before, but draw upon that inner work, experience and wisdom. Bow at start and end of blessing (knees on baruch, waist on atah, straighten on Adonai; same again at chatimah end of blessing). Sefirah of Chesed (generosity) of God revealing Godself to our ancestors. 1st patriarch Abraham began our recognition of and commitment to God. … magein Avraham v’ezrat Sarah.
    • 2. G’vurot (might/powers) – helps the sick, sustains and restores life (and therefore our vitality, inspiration and commitment to living). God constantly creates the cycle of life and death, transforming matter and energy continuously. Wind, rain, dew (ie dew on the daily mannah that brought life). M’chalkeil. Reviving the dead mentioned 5 times (5 levels of soul – nefesh physical life force, ruach emotional / feeling, n’shamah intellect / character, chayah wisdom / essence, yehidah merging with Oneness) Sefirah of g’vruah. 2nd patriarch Isaac restored from death on the mountain (Akedah story). … m’chayeih hameitim.
    • 3. Kedushat hashem (sanctification of God’s name)Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh (Isa. 6:3). You are holy / separate; acknowledging duality is our reality / perception, within underlying Oneness. L’dor vador “We declare your greatness from generation to generation.” [Lev. 22:32 ‘Sanctify me amongst the children of Israel” – it is our task to increase consciousness of God in the world.] Sefirah of tiferet (beauty) … haeil hakadosh.
    • 4. Kedushat hayom (sanctification of the day)V’shamru v’nei yisraeil Marking how important it is to shamor keep and zachor remember Shabbat. 3rd patriarch Jacob kept the family and people together and kadosh separate in the faith. … m’kadeish hashabbat.
    • 5. Avodah (service) (R’tzeih – ‘be pleased’) The core of this blessing is not a request, but ‘We hope you have enjoyed what we have brought You today’. Sefirah of Netzach, associated with Moses. ‘Restore the Shechinah God’s indwelling Presence, to Tzion Zion / the central place in our lives.’ … hamachazir sh’chinato l’tzion.
    • 6. Hoda’ah (thanks) – Modim – Thanks for visible and invisible miracles in our lives. Bow at modim, rise at Adonai; for chatimah end of blessing, knees baruch, waist atah, straighten Adonai (because root of modim is yud-dalet-heh which can mean ‘bow’). To make this prayer is not the completion of thanks, or ending our indebtedness, but is a way of pledging permanent loyalty, as a reciprocal gesture for God’s endless generosity. Sefirah of Hod, associated with Aaron. ‘whose name is good and to whom thanks are due’ … hatov shimcha u’l’cha na’eh l’hodot.
    • 7. Shalom (peace) Sim shalom You have given us 7 things: Torah of life, love of kindness, righteousness, blessing, compassion, life, peace. God’s shalom is the container for the reconciliation of all opposites. Kulanu k’echad ‘all as One’: after 40 years in the wilderness, there is unity in the diversity of the community, from a process of forming, storming, norming and finally performing. Sefirah of Yesod (union, connection between higher aspects and our earthly self), associated with Joseph. ‘who blesses with peace all those who struggle with Infinite’… ham’vorach et amo yisraeil bashalom. (Sim Shalom/Massey)
    • Signing off from the Amidah – these are personal, private prayers (but sometimes said / sung communally)
      • Elohai n’tzor l’shoni meira “guard my tongue from speaking evil” – open my heart to teachings, soul pursue right principles. One of 11 prayers listed in Talmud as examples of personal, individual prayers one might do. Last line: Yihyu l’ratzon “May my words be acceptable”
      • Oseh shalom – The basis of these words is from Job, who, even in the face of great adversity, acknowledged the centrality, reality, necessity, and shalom of God. Choreography: Take three steps back, then bow left saying Oseh shalom bimromav, bow forward saying hu, bow right saying ya’aseh shalom aleinu, and bow forward during the rest. (Oseh Shalom/Massey)
  •  Torah service – top of davennen ‘mountain’ to receive Torah.
    • Sequence before Torah reading:
      • ‘There is none like You’ + Adonai melech, Adonai malach, Adonai yimloch l’olam va’ed ‘God reigns, has reigned and will reign forever’.
      • Adonai oz …. y’vareich et amo bashalom ‘bless Your people with peace’. The very last lines of the Talmud read “The Holy One, blessed be He, found no vessel that could hold the blessing of Israel save shalom, as it is said: “The Eternal will give strength unto His people, the Eternal will bless His people with shalom. (Ps 29:11)’” Such is its importance that Shalom (peace, wholeness, reconciliation of opposites) was the chosen as the very last word of the Talmud.
      • Sh’ma + Echad eloheinu: This moment takes us back to Sinai, and we receive Revelation today.
      • Gadlu ladonai iti (6 Hebrew words – Let us magnify God …): 2 Sam. 6:13 David celebrated every 6 paces, taking the Torah to Jerusalem. L’cha Adonai (1 Chron. 29:10-13) Sefirot. David blesses when people give generously for resources for Solomon to build the Temple.
    • Torah blessings – like with a meal, we make a blessing before and after we are nourished by Torah.
      • Blessing before reading: God is described as the one who ‘gave’ (natah) and who ‘gives’ (notein) the TorahTorah is a document from history, a wisdom tradition from our history, and new insights that we ‘download’ in our own time for our own time. Blessing before Torah study: Alternatives when not reading from scroll: a) Al sh’loshah d’varim ha-olam omeid. Al ha-torah, v’al ha-avodah, v’al g’milut chasadim. (Civilisation is based on three things – on Torah, on service and on loving deeds.) b) … l’asok b’dvrei Torah – immerse / ‘soak’ ourselves in Torah.
      • Mi sheberach for aliyot (those who come up to be honoured with a Torah reading) – offering a blessing for a relevant aspect of the person’s life.
      • Blessing after Torah study: Al sh’loshah d’varim ha-olam kayam. Al ha-emet, v’al ha-din, v’al ha-shalom. (Civilisation is preserved by three things: by truth, by justice and by peace.) Marcia Falk: “May our hearts be lifted, our spirits refreshed, our understanding deepened by the study of Torah. And may the words of Torah be sweet to us and to our offspring and to all the offspring of Israel. As we bless the source of life so we are blessed.”
      • Hagbah (lifting up the scroll) Baruch shenatan … 516 BCE Ezra held up the Torah for the people and read it to them – a moment of democratizing access to the Torah.
    • Haftarah – a reading from the Prophets – linked thematically to the Torah reading. Ensures that we hear the wisdom of the Prophets as part of our regular learning and inspiration.
    • Healing circleAna eil na, or ‘Heal our bodies’ – Alexander’s lyric: “Please bring healing to body and soul; God who blessed in times of old, make us whole.” Restoration to physical health may not always be possible, but we can also envision and support healing of emotions, mind and soul. (Ana eil na/Massey)
    • Community prayers – 1) Community 2) Queen, country and country’s leaders 3) State of Israel.
    • Rosh Chodesh – prayer for the beginning of the new month (if appropriate). Includes wishing us ‘long life’ (Talmud).
    • Hodo al eretz (Your majesty spans heaven and earth)
    • Havu Ladonai (Ps 29) God’s awesome power over and presence in Creation; includes 7 references to kol Adonai the voice of God, which we have just listened to in the reading of Torah and the Prophets.
    • Etz chayim hi ‘It [the Torah] is a tree of life to those who hold it fast’. Hashiveinu … chadesh yameinu k’kedem (Lam. 5:21) Penultimate verse of Lamentations; if God helps us to return (make t’shuvah), then we will be able to do it. ‘Renew our days as of old’: I read this as, even when the Israelites had been at their worst and most distant from God, on turning back towards God-consciousness and ‘being holy’, they were renewed, their souls cleansed so they could begin life anew, living once again in more God-oriented way. After the Torah, what will I pledge this week, how will I renew old commitments, or what new commitments will I make?

5. Closing prayers: bringing down abundance

Kavanah: Descend through the four worlds, coming down Jacob’s ladder, into the world, and integrate into worldly life. What did I learn from prayer today, and how will I action it? Gathering insights and God’s responses: Atzilut review what we placed before God; Beriah insights of the Sh’ma, its blessings and guidance for loving; Yetzirah yearning, thanks and blessings; Assiyah check in with the body.

  • 3rd world Beriah (intellect) Yigdal – A song encapsulating the 13 articles of faith (‘foundations of Judaism’), set out by Maimonides (12th century) in his Mishneh Torah (Sanhedrin 10); an alternative versified version is Ani Ma’amin ‘I believe with perfect faith’
  • 2nd world Yetzirah (emotional): Ein keloheinu: ‘none like God’, begins and ends with aleph, the ‘God letter’. (Ein Keloheinu No.1/Massey and Ein Keiloheinu No.2/Massey)
  • Mourner’s Kaddish: supported by the community, mourners say a prayer affirming life. Shlomo Carlebach taught that the Kaddish is what our deceased loved ones would say, who know the secrets of what follows this life, reassuring us of the greatness of God. (Kaddish/Massey)
  • 1st world Assiyah (physical): Aleinu (various versions, including ‘And then and then’ (Judy Chicago) and Ein Od (Craig Taubman)) – praise God one last time; affirm the covenant of the promise of a better future. Originally from Malchuyot / ‘Kingship’ section of the service at Rosh Hashanah. Midrash: Aleinu was shamanically channeled by merkavah (‘chariot’) mystics in the 2nd century. Each paragraph ends with ‘no other’, and Oneness.
  • Priestly blessing – Y’varech’cha Adonai – call & response version (as well as others) – blessing each other – at a bar/bat mitzvah, bless the family under a tallit – receiving shalom (peace and wholeness), which we (in Malchut at the base of the sefirot) can, in turn, channel to others so that, like Abraham we can be a blessing. (Y’varech’cha/Massey)
  • Adon olam – a profound poem, with themes of God’s eternal / transcendent aspect, temporal / immanent aspect; Creator, Redeemer; impersonal, personal; Judge, Infinitely Compassionate One; there at the beginning, there at our end. (Adon Olam/Massey)

6. Selected reading

  • Grishaver, Joel Lurie (2012) Stories we pray: insights into the iner-work of Jewish worship, Torah Aura Productions
  • Hammer, Reuven (1990) Entering Jewish Prayer: A Guide to Personal Devotion and the Worship Service, Shocken Books
  • Heschel, Abraham Joshua (1954) Man’s Quest for God, copyright Susannah Heschel 1996
  • Mike Comins (2010)Making Prayer Real: Leading Jewish Spiritual Voices on Why Prayer Is Difficult and What to Do about It, Jewish Lights
  • Prager, Rabbi Marcia (1998) The path of blessing: experiencing the energy and abundance of the Divine
  • Rosenburg, Arnold S. (1997/2004) Jewish Liturgy as a Spiritual System: a prayer=y-prayer explanation of the nature and meaning of worship, Rowman & Littlefield
  • Roth, Rabbi Jeff (2012) Jewish meditation practices for everyday life: awakening your heart, connecting with God, Jewish Lights
  • Shachter-Shalomi, Rabbi Zalman (2005) Jewish With Feeling: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice
  • Shachter-Shalomi, Rabbi Zalman (2012) Davenning: a guide to meaningful Jewish prayer, Jewish Lights
  • UK Reform siddur
  • World Progressive Judaism siddur
  • UK Liberal Judaism siddur
  • UK United Synagogue siddur

3 thoughts on “Outline for Shabbat morning davenen”

  1. Wow, Alexander, that is wonderful, could really help me to tune in to tefilla, something I’ve been finding difficult.

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