Monday, March 4, 2013

Avodah sheba-Lev "'You shall serve God with your whole heart.'

We were fortunate enough to have Dr. Norman Stillman  the Judaic Studies Program Director at the University of Oklahoma speak at our Deacon's breakfast yesterday.  He is an internationally recognized authority on the history and culture of the Islamic world and Sephardi and Oriental Jewry. Prof. Stillman received his Ph.D. in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is the author of seven books and has published numerous articles in several languages. He is currently writing a book on the Jews of North Africa for University of California Press and is the executive editor of Brill’s forthcoming 5-volume Encyclopedia of Jews in the Muslim World and was for ten years the editor of the AJS Review, the journal of the Association for Jewish Studies. 

Dr. Stillman spoke about prayer in the Jewish religion.  He stated that according to the Talmud, prayer is a Biblical commandment and the Talmud gives two reasons why there are three basic prayers: to recall the daily sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem, and/or because each of the Patriarchs instituted one prayer: Abraham the morning, Isaac the afternoon and Jacob the evening. A distinction is made between individual prayer and communal prayer, which requires a quorum known as a minyan, with communal prayer being preferable as it permits the inclusion of prayers that otherwise must be omitted.

I was surprised to learn that there are only three basic prayers but there are a multitude of additional prayers and blessings.  It was a very interesting discussion. 

The idea is to keep God ever present in your daily life.  To be mindful of him in all that we do.  Prayer is the way to do that.

We are so fortunate to have a strong connection to the University of Oklahoma and our church has been able to attract such scholars to share their knowledge.

The more I learn it becomes apparent (at least to me) that many religions have more similarities than differences.  

This was a weekend of birthdays.  I took a birthday cake and ice cream to my niece.  She was having her daughters for the weekend and I thought they could celebrate together.

We had a birthday lunch with Ron's oldest friend.  A lonely ole bachelor that I'm forever trying to fix up!  
Then we had a birthday dinner with my daughters and their husbands.  It was my son-in-law's birthday.   It was a very busy weekend.  

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