THE QUOTABLE HESCHEL

The Prayer Book Complex

...To Kabbalah and Hasidism the primary problem was how to pray; to the modern movements, the primary problem was what to say. What has Hasidism accomplished? It has inspired worship in a vast number of Jews. What have the moderns accomplished? They have inspired the publication of a vast number of prayer books. It is important for the rabbis to clarify their goal. Is it to make a contribution to bibliography or to endow our people with a sense of kavanah. There have been numerous Prayer Book Commissions. Why is there no Prayer Commission?

Modern Jews suffer from a neurosis which I should like to call the Siddur (prayer book) complex.

True, the text of the prayer book presents difficulties to many people. But the crisis of prayer is not a problem of the text. It is a problem of the soul. The Siddur must not be used as a scapegoat. A revision of the prayer book will not solve the crisis of prayer. What we need is a revision of the soul, a new heart rather than a new text. 

Man's Quest for God by Abraham Joshua Heschel
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
p. 83.

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