When people ask me how Jews pray, I begin with a story. It comes from a great nineteenth-century rabbi.
An old man enters the sanctuary for the first time.
His face is dirty and his clothes are too big. He stands out among the well-dressed crowd.
Then he picks up the prayerbook and opens it. He is, however, holding it upside down.
Nevertheless, he tries to start singing along. His words are mumbled and incorrect. After a while, he gives up trying to keep up with the crowd.
He just lifts up his eyes towards heaven and repeats the same Hebrew word over and over again.
After a while, the other people in the sanctuary start to get annoyed. They point at him. They shake their heads. One of them goes to the rabbi and suggests he ask the man to leave. Continue reading