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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Home is where prayer is

In this week's America (June 18-25) there is an interview with Susannah Heschel on the life and work of Abraham Joshua Heschel. In it, she speaks of her father's thought of prayer "as not an occasional exercise but rather like an established residence, a home for the innermost self." In his essay "On Prayer", Rabbi Abraham Heschel says that all things have a home: the bee has a hive, the bird has a nest. For the soul, home is where prayer is, and a soul without prayer is a soul without a home. Continuity, permanence, intimacy, authenticity, and earnestness are its attributes. "I enter (this home) as a supplicant and emerge as a witness; I enter as a stranger and emerge as next of kin. I may enter spiritually shapeless, inwardly disfigured and emerge wholly changed." We pray because there is a vast disproportion between human misery and human compassion."

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