A STEP BY STEP GUIDE
What is this course?
Prayer is hard. All too often, it is inaccessible, impersonal and leaves us feeling alienated. Yet our prayers can be powerful medicine, helping us overcome adversity within and without.
If we can learn to harness them, our prayers are practical exercises for growth and healing. Every prayer service can become a journey of transformation. Our humble prayerbook (siddur) can become a roadmap to greater self-awareness, gratitude, empathy, focus, love, joy, forgiveness, resilience, creativity, connection and wholeness.
In this live, interactive course with Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein, we will focus on certain key prayers from the daily morning service, learn their texts, explore their context, and then work with them to support our personal journey of becoming our best possible selves.
Together, we will travel through the journey of our morning prayer service, which the Kabbalists relate to the Four Worlds of our human experience:
1) Physical, embodied sensation and orientation (Assiyah) - this includes the Morning Blessings and other opening prayers. Here we will learn about and practice coming into presence, deeper awareness and appreciation of our own bodies, the concentric circles of people and other beings we are connected to, and the world as a whole.
2) Our emotional lives (Yetzirah) - this includes the Verses of Praise (Pesukei DeZimra) which our sages proscribed as a warmup for the primary prayers. Here we will learn about and practice connecting with and cultivate healthy and supportive emotions such as gratitude, joy, generosity and trust.
3) Thoughts and intellect (Beriah) - this includes the Shema and the blessings around it. Here we will learn about and practice attuning ourselves to the wonder of creation, the infinite love that is our birthright and the glue that unites all things, and the mystery of the Oneness that is the Source of all.
4) Spirituality and the life of our soul, our deepest self (Atzilut) - this includes the Amidah, the silent standing prayer. Here we will learn about and practice the three stages of this ancient, prophetic prayer: praise; requesting the fulfilment of our needs; thanksgiving. And finally, we will pray for Shalom - peace and wholeness, for ourselves and the world.
Each class will move from text study, with time for reflection and discussion, to practice. Practices will include writing exercises and guided meditations.
Participants will be invited from the first session, as an option, to match with a spiritual chavruta (partner) with whom they will share their journey.
The course also includes an optional forum for group processing and ongoing support from the teacher and other participants.
All texts are provided with clear line-by-line translations, and no prior knowledge or experience with the subject matter is necessary. This course is open to novices and advanced learners of all backgrounds and orientations.
How does it work?
The course consists of 8 classes, of 75 minutes each, which participants can participate in live, or watch later at their own convenience.
Sessions consist of close study of texts and guided practices.
Each session includes:
1) A live, interactive class, in which Rabbi Daniel leads a 75 minutes study and meditation session. Sessions include a close reading of Jewish texts in their original, clearly translated and explained, together with relevant background information and discussion.
These sessions can be watched live for a direct interaction with the teacher, or watched at your convenience.
2) A printable handout of sources, including the prayers themselves and commentaries on them, provided in full translation with introductory comments and guiding questions.
3) Guided practices for deepening the work started in each class, with clear instructions.
4) An open channel to Rabbi Daniel and other AJS course participants, to process the journey through the teachings and practices of each class.
The course begins on Sunday, July 11, and ends on Sunday, August 29.
The live Zoom sessions will take place every Sunday.*
The live zoom sessions begin at 11am Pacific / 2pm Eastern / 7pm UK / 9pm Israel.
*Because Sunday July 18 is the Fast of Tisha B'Av, that week's class will take place on Monday July 19.
Video recordings of each class will be shared for participants to watch at their own convenience.
"Rabbi Daniel's knowledge and engaging teaching style has been transformative in deepening my spiritual practice in a subject dearest to my heart. He's truly fulfilling the mitzvah of Talmud Torah."
- Carmella Michals
"Learning with Rav Daniel is a wonderful experience. In his classes he brings an extraordinary range of texts from our tradition and makes them meaningful for our lives today. His deep personal integrity, wisdom and spirituality constantly inspire me to walk the Jewish spiritual path and help me with my own awakening and development."
- Rabbi Danny Newman, Founder & Director, HaMakom
"My numerous experiences studying with Rav Daniel have given me immense benefits both immediately and in the long-term. When learning with Rav Daniel, I feel the inner peace and joy that comes with learning from a teacher who is scholarly, spiritual, and down-to-earth. I have also gleaned extremely useful tools in learning how to approach Jewish texts and tradition and how to bring meditative spiritual practice into my life, all in a loving and open-minded way. Thank you so much."
- Shira Sacks