Friday, June 25, 2010

Davennology 101: Exploring "Mah Tovu"

The "Mah Tovu" prayer, that beautiful declaration of awe traditionally recited upon entering the sanctuary, is based on a vision found in the portion Balak. The prophet Balaam comes to curse the Israelites, but then, overtaken by the peaceful beauty of their dwelling places, blesses them instead. I've assembled a number of commentaries on this short but rich prayer. Both the commentaries and the verses of the prayer itself come from a wide variety of sources.

In the spirit of my Davvenology series (a term coined by Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi), this collection of commentaries seeks to breathe life into this prayer by matching it with our life experiences. It is wonderful to be able to take not only from traditional commentaries, but also from modern Biblical criticism and contemporary interpretations as well. I include in my a section from Sh'ma magazine, in which we discover the sanctity embedded in every room of our homes (even the front porch).

The Mah Tovu prayer reminds us that each home is indeed a mini sanctuary, a "Mikdash Me'at."

I'll be posting more of my ongoing "Davvenology 101" series over the coming months.

To read the Davvenology 101 pdf, "Exploring Mah Tovu," click here.

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