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Self-Emptying Prayer

At Temple Beth Zion, we blend “self-emptying prayer” and meditation in order to transform our tefillah and avodah into a truly personal experience. In “self-emptying prayer,” we do not seek to lose ourselves; rather, we seek to relax our grip on the superficialities which, too often, appear to be synonymous with ‘self.’ By emptying the seeming-self, it becomes easier to pay attention to — and act from — our more expansive, lasting Selves. This sensitive balance — between self-detachment and Self-engagement — is reflected in the unique Kabbalat Shabbat Prayer Book assembled by Rabbi Moshe Waldoks — Reb Moshe — and our members:

When I am free from ancestors, free from traditions, free from truths,
free from words, free from thoughts, free from even the need to be free,
there is God, and there I am not.
Blessed is the One at the heart of my emptiness.

And yet, to our members and many visitors, there is hardly anything “empty” about our services! Mixing the traditional and experimental, Reb Moshe has repopulated our once-diminished congregation. Our Friday evening and Shabbat morning services are regularly packed. Our services are friendly, lively and participatory, with a satisfying mix of Hebrew and English. We are open to the mystical teachings of Kaballah and Hasidism, and men and women share equal access to study and worship. We enjoy mixing quiet meditation and group davening (prayer) with chanting, dancing and singing as vehicles for immediate spiritual experience. And in our Torah service, Reb Moshe connects themes from the weekly reading to our everyday lives.

As a community of teachers, learners, seekers and spiritual practioners, we are collaborating to understand what it means to be a Jew at the beginning of the 21st century.

Wed, July 17 2019 14 Tammuz 5779