Gates of Prayer שערי תפילה
Prayer is as central to Judaism as it is varied and multi-faceted, and through the ages the “Gates of Prayer” have opened to a tremendous surge of literary creativity. The earliest Hebrew prayers are found in the Bible, where they range from a few heart-felt words spoken by Moses (Numbers 12:13) or Hannah (Samuel 1:11) to the lyric outpourings in the Psalms. Petitions, confession, thanksgiving to God, and exaltation of His works are part of Jewish prayer and are abundantly represented in the collections of the Library of Congress. The Hebrew prayers at the heart of synagogue worship took form in late antiquity, when the rabbis ordained the wording of the fixed, obligatory prayers and their recitation at specific times. But there was also a great deal of room for individual poets to expand on the basic prayers with liturgical poems of their own. These enriched the prayer service with works of great complexity and beauty, most often written in Hebrew but also in their local languages. Local customs and rites, moreover, developed among different Jewish communities, add to the multi-faceted nature of Jewish worship.
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