Sunday, September 15, 2013

Do You Clap Hands When Praying?

If you are a Bratzlaver, you probably clap your hands during prayer, even if it bothers the heck out of your non-Bratzlaver fellow synagogue goer.

Read on:

Benjamin Isaac and Yuval Shahar (eds.), Judaea-Palaestina, Babylon and Rome: Jews in Antiquity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012).

This volume is a collection of seventeen articles presented at a 2009 conference held at Tel Aviv University in honor of Aharon Oppenheimer on the occasion of his retirement...

...In the article “Dancing, Clapping, Mediating: Jewish and Christian Observance of the Sabbath in Pseudo-Ignatius,” Shaye Cohen deals with Christian attitudes to the Jewish Shabbat. He shows that at least in the late third and fourth century, the spiritual/carnal dichotomy developed by Paul to distinguish between Jews and Christians was applied in some important Christian texts to the Shabbat. The argument went as follows: whereas Jews celebrate the holy day in a carnal way – by dancing, clapping and eating – the Christians celebrate it spiritually, as a preparation to the day of the Lord, by meditating on the natural law (that is the law with which the world was created). Cohen’s points out an interesting parallel between this Christian critique and some rabbinic teachings that are severe with regard to the carnal way non-rabbinic Jews celebrate the holy day. Indeed, if we take the early rabbis to be a spiritual and intellectual elite (and not necessarily a political one), we can understand why they criticized this kind of “barbaric” behavior. More generally, I think this helps us detect a certain similarity between the project of some rabbis and that of some Christians. To some extent both groups saw a contradiction between holiness and carnal practices. And both used rhetoric to manage and contain the Dionysian inclinations of their groups.
Although I am not Christain, I still think unrestricted hand clapping and those moans and groans are a bit too interruptive for other people's concentration.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article. You know... sometimes when a person leaves that religion of christianity, they seem to carry baggage with them, and it is hard to know what to do and what to ditch!! Thank you for your article... Certainly i do NOT want to carry baggage...from my past over to my present lifestyle now and need help in knowing the difference. Thank you.