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Amida in Learning

Published in Ayeka by Aryeh Ben David
Posted on June 24, 2018

Something is seriously askew.

We all know that the peak moment in Jewish prayer is the silent standing prayer. Not saying the Shema, not the singing, not Hallel, not any ecstatic group experience. Everything leads up to this one silent prayer.

The silent prayer usually only takes 3 or 4 minutes. A morning service can take ten times that, but everything is a springboard for those few minutes.


Because we recognize that while there may be community elements to prayer, everyone has his or her own uniquely private spiritual life. We may all be standing together, but at the peak moment of the silent prayer, everyone is in his or her uniquely private personal space.

So here is the question that I would like to shout from the rooftops:

If this is true for our prayer life, that every individual needs time to make it real and personal and spiritual – then where is that time in our learning life? Doesn’t everyone have a unique way of personalizing and integrating content?

Where is the Amida in our learning?!

We can all learn in the same class, just like we can all pray in the same synagogue, but if during prayer we recognize the need for personal private time, why not in learning?

What would happen if the shaliach tzibur (prayer leader) said: “I’m afraid that people will just day-dream during the 3 or 4 minutes of silent time, so I’m going to skip it”? While it might be true that our minds wander during the silent prayer, no synagogue in the world would skip it.

But the equivalent of the shaliach tzibur in education – the teacher – might say the same thing to him/herself, and then skip the personal private time.

Why don’t we have the equivalent of the Amida in our classroom education? Why isn’t there an equivalent of the peak prayer moment in our learning life?

How do we expect our students to personalize the learning in their own unique way if we never give them the chance to be alone with it?