These prayer ideas will work as well for theists as atheists
This piece is not for everyone. It will speak to humble people, but they don’t need it. How do you know which one you are? If you’re over sixty, typically, you know. If you’re younger, ask someone who loves you and is honest enough to tell you about the status of your ego.
The prayers of the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh haShannah till Yom Kippur may give totally wrong impressions. As if these are religious tricks on how to get the most out of the coming year. Following are some ideas to undermine these false impressions of Orthodox Judaism.
Us, not Me
The prayers are almost all in the plural. It’s not all about me me me.
In fact, we don’t pray for anyone else in particular too. It’s all about us.
We pray in groups, not to give our own prayers strength. Rather, our prayers can only play a role as part of a communal prayer effort, as part of a National Prayer. Many women know this and, therefore, can pray alone.
Much of the Prayers ask for the continuation of the Jewish People. Some of it, though, is for all of humanity. This unity is not for the sake of unity but for the sake of everyone doing the right thing.
Yes, we beat our chest when we express regret for many sins. But it’s not just about us. It’s also about the effect our sins have on others, and how we have not coached others out of their sins.
We each have the ability to drill a fatal hole in the boat we are all on. Not doing so may save everyone. That doesn’t make one the captain.
There are two mistakes about Free Will. In the West, many hold that they are in full control. So, who needs Fate of G^d? In the East, many assume that Fate or G^d is in control. “G^d is great!” “Whatever will be will be!” So, who needs Man?
The Jewish truth is that both conclusions are incomplete and therefore faulty. A lot, if not everything, is decided for us; yet, what we choose, even if it’s preordained, makes a crucial difference. We should be credited for our good deeds because of our (teachers’) efforts. Our poor deeds should be condemned because of our (teachers’) love for being less than good.
The whole idea that we help G^d or Humanity is faulty. We got the honor of being invited to play a modest role. Even if we are successful, how much do we contribute? How much goes better because of us? We didn’t place ourselves at this juncture in time, and we received our character from the people who raised us, so little good of what we do speaks of our virtue.
Too much emphasis is on the life we want and too little on gratefulness for the life we had, so far. Yes, we ask for life. But, we also prioritize saying Shehecheyanu. This is to express gratefulness for the days until now!
Bless others wholeheartedly. Let others bless you. But pray for everyone. It’s very holy if you know that only G^d gives us everything. But, we should not act like spoiled kids for whom nothing is ever enough: more, more!