Why Do Jews Rock When They Pray?

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    People who aren't Jewish often wonder why devout Jews rock back and forth during prayer. The ancient practise is known as shuckling, which literally translates to "to rock, shake, or swing" in Yiddish. Just as with many other traditions, it's easier to identify when and where it was practised than to provide a solid answer as to why people shuckle during prayer and study of the Torah.

    The prophet Mohammed is claimed to have seen this behaviour and warned his followers not to sway back and forth during worship. It was said by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi that in 12th-century Spain, ten or more men would read from a single book. Each reader approached the book, bent over it, and then stepped back to allow space for the next person.

    According to yet another authority (Psalm 35:10), "The verse "HaShem, who is like unto Thee" (quoted above) is sometimes seen as an exhortation to pray with one's entire being. When praying, why do certain Jews rock back and forth? Boris "Photography by Thomas Valentin Harb, Jewish Museum in Berlin Alternatively, the rhythmic motion may serve as a mental barrier that prevents one from being distracted when praying or studying. The soul, as described in the mystical text Zohar, comes from the holy light. When a Jew studies Torah, his or her inner light is rekindled, and he or she becomes like a flickering candle. Many devout Jews, like depicted here, seek personal intimacy with God via study and prayer.

    In the past, certain rabbis would only allow their congregations to shuffle during certain prayers. Most Jews in 19th-century Germany were against shuckling because they wanted to conform to the norms of the wider population. These days, most people know that shuckling is meant to be a bodily response to the tempo of prayer and a means of focusing one's mind. Jews are known to rock back and forth as they study the Torah and pray. One term for this practise is "shuckling."

    According To Jewish Tradition, There Are Two Possible Explanations:

    1. "All my limbs shall proclaim: Who is like You," declares King David in Psalms 35:10. When we worship God, we use every part of ourselves: our thoughts, feelings, and words, as well as our physical bodies. To connect with our Creator, we must use all of ourselves.
    2. "Man's soul is a torch of Gd" (Proverbs 20:27). The candle's flame sways and flickers incessantly as it struggles to escape its wick and reach the heavens. As a whole, we are constantly striving to free our spirit from the limitations of our physical bodies and become closer to God. This is especially true at times of prayer, those solitary stretches of time when we can devote ourselves fully to strengthening our bond with God. Our physicality reflects this endeavour by swaying like a candle in the wind.

    Even while Jewish law (halacha) requires worshippers to rise and bow at specific points throughout the service, additional gestures might show just how deeply one cares about the service. There are several Hasidic and neo-Hasidic groups where prayer services include frenzied clapping and dancing. Swaying, often known as shuckling (a Yiddish word) is a more prevalent movement of this kind. Many Jews who pray regularly consider it second nature to do so. The Kuzari, a philosophical work written by Rabbi Yehudah Halevi in the 12th century, explains that swaying was a common practise when many people prayed from the same book at once.

    According to the Zohar, there is a more spiritual reason for swaying: "A Jew's soul is like a candle: when he speaks a single word of Torah, the flame flickers and sways." (Zohar to Numbers, 217b-218a). The Arukh Ha-Shulhan, authored by Rabbi Yehiel Michel Epstein in the nineteenth century, offers a possible explanation that is more straightforward. Many people, he says, sway when praying because it increases their kavannah (spiritual intensity) and makes them feel more involved in their discussion with God.

    Defend Yeshua

    Jewish people will often cite Isaiah's declaration that the temple serves as "a sanctuary of prayer for all nations" (Is. 56:7). However, God's presence is not confined to any one location. Jesus Christ is the answer. After entering the temple on the day before his death, Jesus recited this Isaiah passage (Mark 11:17). Jesus Christ, who was God manifest in the flesh, entered the temple, but the religious leaders and worshippers there failed to recognise Him for who He truly was.

    By trusting in Jesus' sacrifice, we receive forgiveness of sins and restoration to God. Indeed, in Christ, people from every nation can pray to God, but not as sinners trying to earn God's favour by good works, but as adopted children expressing their love and adoration to the Father of their ancestors. Share the good news that Jesus Christ is the only means of accessing God the Father (John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15).

    To the Jews, Prayer Is Like a New Sacrifice

    Adult Jewish men are expected to pray three times each day. (Women's responsibilities differ per religion.) Psalms and recitations from prayer books published by Jewish religious leaders called rabbis are commonly used by pious men and women throughout the day. The idea of sacrifice is central to Jewish prayer. Animal sacrifices were offered for one century in Old Testament Israel as a means of atonement for sin in accordance with God's law as written in the Torah. After the Romans destroyed the temple in AD 70, however, animal sacrifices were abruptly halted. 

    Psalm 141:2 says, "Please accept my supplication as an evening sacrifice, and my hands lifted to the heavens as incense." which was recited by Jews as a replacement for animal sacrifices (Ps. 141 ESV). Without a temple for animal offerings, this Psalm and others like it became the guidebook by which the Jewish people gained God's favour. Many Jews in the present day still hold fast to the idea that their regular prayers are a direct continuation of the ancient temple rituals.

    Local rabbis became the go-to for Jewish spiritual guidance after the temple was destroyed. Over time, the number of rabbis grew, and communities began to adhere to the specific canons and customs established by their respective leaders. This included the addition of new prayers to the daily recitation schedule. Praying is now a vital part of a Jew's repertoire of acts of worship.

    The range of Jewish practise is broad, from the secular to the religious, from Orthodox to Reform Judaism. However, the vast majority of Jews adhere to a few prayer norms. The idea of sacrifice is central to Jewish prayer. For hundreds of years, Old Testament Israelites obeyed God's rule as written in the Torah by bringing animals to the altar as a means of atonement for sin. After the Romans destroyed the temple in AD 70, however, animal sacrifices were abruptly halted.

    When the Jews needed a replacement for animal offerings, they turned to an ancient Psalm of David: "Accept my supplication as an evening sacrifice, and my hands lifted in prayer." (Ps. 141 ESV). Without a temple for animal sacrifices, this and other Psalms became the Jewish community's how-to guide for winning God's favour. Many Jews in the present era nevertheless hold fast to the belief that their regular prayers are a direct continuation of the ancient temple rites.

    When searching the Talmud for references to Shucklen, you won't find any. 2 Surprisingly, it is first mentioned in Islamic literature. Be not like the Jews who publicly shift from side to side whenever they read the Torah, Mohammed is reported to have stated. When looking for anything, the poet Labid (d. 660) describes a guy who moves his hand back and forth "like a praying Jew" as he gropes. In addition to its use in Jewish prayer and Torah study, shuckle is mentioned in Jewish literature. One of the earliest references to swaying when studying the Torah comes from a poem written by Rabbi Samuel Hanaggid of Granada (d. 1057).

    We entered the House of God in a rage, wishing we had taken a wrong turn, to find the rabbi and his students bobbing their heads like a tamarisk in the desert. Numerous explanations have been offered for this behaviour. In his book The Kuzari, a fictional rabbi named "Rabbi Judah Halevi of Spain" (d. 1142) offers two possible Conversation between the Khazar king and a Jewish scholar. The monarch wants to know why the Jews keep changing their interpretations of the Bible. Rabbinic Response 

    They claim that this is done to stimulate their body's inherent thermal energy. Here's what I think on a personal level: Due to the high frequency with which many individuals read simultaneously, it was not uncommon for 10 or more people to share a single book. They took turns bending over and reading a piece, then straightening up. Since the book was on the floor, this meant that the person reading it had to constantly sit up and lean over. This is one of the main reasons why. Then, as is human nature, it became ingrained by repeated exposure to the behaviour and the subsequent imitation of that behaviour.

    A third possibility is offered by Rabbi Simhah of Vitry (France, d. 1105). "For this we see during the imparting of the Torah 'And the people saw, and they shook' (Exodus 20:18)," he explains, explaining why children are taught to sway when they learn the Torah.

    The thirteenth-century Spanish Zohar asks, "Why do all the peoples of the earth not sway, but only Jews do so when they study Torah?" A Jew's soul is like a candle; when he speaks even a single word of Torah, the flame flickers and sways. Because the Holy Lamp [of God] is the source of the Israelites' souls.

    How Jews Should Sit and Kneel When Praying?

    For both men and women, a repetitive, little bow is a frequent praying behaviour. They do this by holding Bibles or prayer books in their hands and swaying their upper bodies back and forth rhythmically as they pray. During the daily morning prayer, men don prayer shawls called tallitot that are decorated with fringe. God commanded Moses to have the Israelites dress in fringed robes as a sign of their holiness. This became the inspiration for the prayer shawl (Num. 15:37–41).

    In contrast, religious women are expected to wear a head covering at all times, not just during worship. This law has led to widespread wig use among Orthodox Jewish women. During prayer, non-religious women may remove their headscarves or wear them loosely. Women are expected to pray in silence when men are present, according to the majority of Jewish denominations.

    At morning prayer, Orthodox males put on tefillin, which are little leather boxes fastened to leather straps that they place on their foreheads and forearms. Exodus and Deuteronomy passages are housed in the containers (Ex. 13:1–16; Deut. 6:4–9; 11:13–21). In these passages, God commands His people Israel to tattoo symbols of His words onto their bodies as a reminder of His laws and instructions.

    Say Jewish Prayers With Us

    No one will ever accept God's truth until He reveals it to them through His Holy Spirit. I ask God to open the Jewish people's eyes so they can recognise Jesus as the promised Messiah. I hope individuals who try to earn God's favour via prayer and good works can recognise the significance of the gospel. And don't miss a chance to pray with your Jewish friends in Jesus' name. To demonstrate what a relationship with God looks like, lead by example in your prayer life. Only by faith in Christ are we able to appease God, make atonement, and have our prayers answered.

    Judaism's tradition of shuckling during worship and study dates back at least one millennium and four decades. While the exact motivation is unknown, the vast majority of Jews believe that it improves focus during times of prayer and study. Conversely, you are under zero compulsion to shuffle. R. Yehiel Michal Epstein (who unfortunately passed away in 1908) offered the best rule of thumb: And some people, depending on their temperament, sway during the Amidah while others don't. For the purpose of heaven, one should sway if it helps one's Kavanah, but one should not sway if one's Kavanah is clearer when standing still.


    During prayer and Torah study, devout Jews often rock back and forth. Shaking, rocking, and swinging are all words used to describe the ancient practise known as shuckling. Some people think it's a Jewish tradition because of two different possibilities. The Zohar explains that swaying has deeper spiritual underpinnings. Hasidic and neo-Hasidic groups' prayers frequently feature frantic clapping and dancing.

    Psalm 141:2 was recited by Jews in place of animal sacrifices, and it reads, "Please take my prayer as an evening sacrifice, and my hands elevated to the sky as incense" (Ps. 141 ESV). In the absence of a physical temple where sacrifices could be made, the people of Israel looked to Psalms like this one as a way to please God. There are no mentions of Shucklen in the Talmud. The word "shuckle" first appears in Islamic writing. Rabbi Samuel Hanaggid of Granada, in a poem, makes one of the first known references to swaying while studying the Torah.

    The males of the Jewish faith wear prayer shawls called tallitot, which are often adorned with fringe, during the daily morning prayer. Observant women are supposed to cover their hair at all times, not just in church. When praying in the presence of men, women are likewise supposed to be silent. Since at least the 14th century CE, Jews have been shuckling while praying and studying. Some people rock back and forth during the Amidah, while others like to remain perfectly still, but either way, doing so will only help one's Kavanah in the eyes of God.

    Content Summary

    1. Non-Jews frequently express bewilderment at the sight of observant Jews rocking back and forth in prayer.
    2. Shuckling is a Yiddish verb meaning "to rock, shake, or swing," and it describes the age-old practise perfectly.
    3. Most people today understand that shuckling is a physical response to the rhythm of prayer and a way to centre one's thoughts.
    4. Rocking back and forth while studying the Torah and praying is a common practise among Jews.
    5. The way our bodies sway in the wind, like a flame, is a visual representation of our effort.
    6. Although Jewish law (halacha) mandates that worshippers stand and bow at designated points in the service, other actions may be used to demonstrate one's devotion.
    7. This type of motion is more common when swaying, often known as shuckling (a Yiddish word).
    8. Those who are devout Jews may pray without thinking about it.
    9. Another, more spiritual explanation for swaying is found in the Zohar: "A Jew's soul is like a candle: when he says a single word of Torah, the flame flickers and sways." Justify Jesus) They frequently refer to Isaiah's claim that the temple is "a refuge of prayer for all nations" (Is.
    10. Christ Jesus is the solution.
    11. Tell others that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5).
    12. Praying Is Like Offering a Fresh Sacrifice to the Jews. (Psalms and recitations from prayer books published by Jewish religious authorities called rabbis are regularly utilised by pious men and women at various times during the day, although adult Jewish men are obligated to pray three times a day.
    13. Jewish prayer often includes references to the concept of sacrifice.
    14. For a hundred years, Old Testament Israelites followed the instructions of the Torah and gave sacrifices to appease God.
    15. However, sacrifices of animals were discontinued immediately after the temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.
    16. which Jews chanted as an alternative to sacrificing animals (Ps.
    17. For modern Jews, prayer is an essential aspect of their repertoire of religious observances.
    18. However, there are several standard prayer practises that the vast majority of Jews follow.
    19. For hundreds of years, Israelites in the Old Testament followed God's order as taught in the Torah and offered sacrifices on the altar to appease God and make reparation for their sins.
    20. However, the practise of sacrificing animals was immediately put on hold after the temple was demolished by the Romans in AD 70.
    21. There are no mentions of Shucklen in the Talmud.
    22. 2 Inexplicably, the first written reference to it can be found in Islamic texts.
    23. Mohammed is believed to have said, "Do not be like the Jews, who publicly shift from side to side while they read the Torah."
    24. Jewish literature makes reference to shuckle, in addition to its use in prayer and Torah study.
    25. Rabbi Samuel Hanaggid of Granada, in a poem, makes one of the oldest references to swaying while studying the Torah (d. 1057).
    26. There have been many proposed explanations for this behaviour.
    27. Given that the Holy Lamp [of God] is the wellspring from which the Israelites draw their own beings, it follows that the Israelites must worship it as a sacred object.
    28. It is common for both men and women to repeat a small bow to the ground several times during a prayer.
    29. The males of the Jewish faith wear prayer shawls called tallitot, which are often adorned with fringe, during the daily morning prayer.
    30. In order to show the world that they are holy, God told Moses to have the Israelites wear robes with fringes.
    31. However, pious women are obligated to cover their heads at all times, not just at church.
    32. The law has resulted in many Orthodox Jewish women donning wigs.
    33. Women who do not practise a religion in which covering the head is obligatory are free to do so during times of prayer.
    34. Most Jewish sects hold that female worshippers should remain silent in the presence of male worshippers.
    35. In these chapters, God instructs Israel to ink reminders of His commandments and instructions onto their bodies in the form of tattoos.
    36. Join Us in Jewish Prayers Until God Himself convicts a person of the truth by means of the Holy Spirit, that person will never embrace the truth God has revealed.
    37. Please, God, let the Jewish people see Jesus as the prophesied Messiah.
    38. And whenever you can, pray with your Jewish friends in the name of Jesus Christ.
    39. Put forth an example in your prayer life if you truly want to show others how to develop a relationship with God.
    40. Since at least the 14th century CE, Jews have been shuckling while praying and studying.
    41. Its specific purpose is uncertain, but most Jews hold that it helps them concentrate better in prayer and study.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Jews Rock

    Jews are supposed to pray three times a day; morning, afternoon, and evening. The Jewish prayer book (it's called a siddur) has special services set down for this. Praying regularly enables a person to get better at building their relationship with God. After all, most things get better with practice.

    God in Judaism has been conceived in a variety of ways. Traditionally, Judaism holds that Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the national god of the Israelites, delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and gave them the Law of Moses at Mount Sinai as described in the Torah.

    Daily prayers

    • Shacharit (morning prayers)
    • Mincha (afternoon prayers)
    • Ma'ariv/Arvit (evening prayers)

    Even after nearly 2,000 years of its existence, and centuries of investigation by biblical scholars, we still don't know with certainty who wrote its various texts, when they were written or under what circumstances.

    The most popular religion is Christianity, followed by an estimated 2.38 billion people worldwide. Islam, which is practiced by more than 1.91 billion people, is second. However, population researchers predict that Islam will have nearly caught up to Christianity by 2050.

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