Ysoscher Katz
Ysoscher Katz
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A parent’s siddur play prayer

The prayer book is a songbook for life's peaks, a balm for its lows, and the guiding soundtrack throughout

I am a bundle of emotions tonight. Our youngest child is having his siddur play tomorrow morning.

He is sleeping peacefully, but come the morning he will embark on a long and circuitous journey of maturity and self knowledge.

As he sets out on this inspired journey, I pray that he never gets off this road, that he remains a praying being for the rest of his life.

many have started off on this path, but few have persevered. The obstacles are many. You will often find yourself hitting a wall, encountering bleakness and fog, or plain simply run out of gas. Stay the course!


when the chips are up, or when they are down;

when you strive for transcendence, or when you are searching for immanence;

when you are trying to reach outward, or looking to run inward;

when you are awash in joy and happiness, or when you are overcome by fury and sadness;

when you are filled with certainty, or when you racked by ambiguity;

when you want to speak to Him, or when you’d rather be yelling at Him;

when you believe, when you are in doubt, and, even if you find yourself straying off the path;

Keep on praying.

Let the siddur’s words be your soundtrack as you traverse life. May it be the songbook for when you ascend life’s peaks, and your balm as you hover over its lows.

But, do not let the words fool you. Prayer is not unidimensional. It is different things at different times. It can be dialogue or monologue, personal or communal, aspirational or fatalistic, affirmative or rebellious, or … whatever else you want it to be.

It can be done orally or silently, stoically or filled with agitation.

As the Psalmist says: ואני תפילה. Prayer is identity. It is who you are, not what you do.

As you open your eyes tomorrow morning you will say “modeh ani” — I thank. Let that praying stance stay with you forever.

Ve-ani tefilah! — And I am prayer

About the Author
Rabbi Ysoscher Katz is the Senior Rabbi of PHS, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and Chair of the Talmud department at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He received ordination in 1986 from Rabbi Yechezkel Roth, dayan of UTA Satmer. Rabbi Katz studied in Brisk and in Yeshivat Beit Yosef, Navaradok for more ten years, and is a graduate of the HaSha'ar Program for Jewish Educators, Rabbi Katz taught at the Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls and SAR High School, and gave a popular daf yomi class in Brooklyn for more than eight years.
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