Rabbi Jack Simcha Cohen has devoted many years to researching and writing on halakhic topics. His latest book is “Jewish Prayer: The Right Way,” Urim Publications, 2012.
This book is composed of a series of questions and answers on basic topics relating to prayer: general orientation to tefilla; the role of the hazzan; synagogue customs; the Shema; the public Torah readings; rules relating to Cohanim; the Kaddish. Rabbi Cohen offers concise and clear answers, drawing on a wide range of halakhic sources.
In his introductory chapter, he offers insights on the significance of public worship based on a fixed text. He explains how the halakhic framework of prayer underscores the value of time, and our ability to appreciate the significance of an ongoing relationship with the Almighty. The Amidah is recited silently as an indication of our personal connection with the Almighty. Yet, the Amidah is formulated in the plural to remind us that we pray not only as individuals, but as members of the larger community.
“To pray is thus not a mere personal dialogue with the Almighty. It is an opportunity to stand alone, to appreciate an event and yet silently embrace the gamut of universal human emotions and solutions to problems….A man who prays in conformance with the dictates of ritual need never be concerned with the excess of meaningless time because ritual pray is man’s answer to the problem of time.”
Rabbi Cohen is not only a halakhist. He has spent a lifetime as a pulpit rabbi. As such, he has gained the sensitivity to be able to address the public in an informative and interesting manner. His halakhic discussions are often accompanied by homiletic and philosophical insights.
We congratulate Rabbi Cohen on this new book, and look forward to his continued research and writing on halakhic topics.
This review originally appeared on JewishIdeas.org.