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  1. #1
    Fundamentalist Atheist Big Hype's Avatar
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    Question Why do Jews rock back and forth when they pray?

    ^^^

    What is the purpose to this movement?
    If you don't like what I have to say, you should probably move to Israel.
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    probably get really into their prayer
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    Related question: why do kids with Downs Syndrome rock back and forth during special ed class?
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    Fountainhead Organichu's Avatar
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    Jews sway during prayer for two reasons: the first (and probably most relevant) relates to general Jewish body language. Jews (especially the Hasidic and other Orthodox movements) often sway simply as a sign of concentration or deep thought. Many Rabbis rock and sway during reading, a public speaking, etc. Jews also do this while saying Grace after dinner.

    The religious reason (at least the one most commonly given) relates to a passage in the Talmud. It basically says (and this is with a loose translation from my Hebraic copy) "all of my body/limbs will say your name, Hashem". Or more like "all of my limbs will say 'Hashem, who is like You?"

    Which is basically: you alone are God and my whole body speaks of this.
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    Taken from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...6182543AAdLwAI

    Rabbi Natan Halevy of AskMoses.com has generously provided some information to me, and given me permission to share. Hopefully NOT quoting out of context, here are some of his thoughts:

    "In Proverbs it is written, ?The soul of man is the candle of G-d.?

    Just as a candle by nature continuously flickers upwards and downwards: so too, does the soul have this inborn nature.

    The soul flickers upwards; It longs to leave the physical surroundings which limit it, and do not let it express itself. The soul wants to leave the mundane and become one with the higher reality of G-dly spirituality.

    At the same time, the flame of the candle stays down and burns on the wick. The wick is the body. Why is this? Why not let the soul go up to G-d in a state of ecstasy?
    We must keep the light of the soul down here so that it will be able to illuminate our lives with the light of spirituality and G-dliness. How do we do this? By performing and fulfilling the Torah and its commandments. They are compared to oil. Which keeps the flame on the wick burning, ensuring that it will not fizzle out. So too, the soul needs these good deeds in order to keep shining in the physical realm.

    Without the Mitzvot the soul may become completely extinguished. Performing physical Mitzvot also ensures that a person will not be too spiritual. Spiritual in a way that disconnects him from the physical world. Up to the point that he becomes completely separated from his reality and surroundings. This kind of ?spirituality? is usually harmful to the person and does not benefit society. Since this type of person loses all contact with reality.

    The soul contains the characteristics needed to deal with and refine the physical world. This comes from the soul?s element of air. This keeps the fire of the soul on the candle. (The body)."
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  6. #6
    Fountainhead Organichu's Avatar
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    I've never heard that explanation before. I wonder if it's purely Talmudic... I don't recall any mention of that in the Tanakh.

    Very pretty, though.
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  7. #7
    Abu Hurairah EOY's Avatar
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    Many Muslims do that too (in Qur'an memorization circles usually).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3Svd8L7Z6I

    I'm not sure why exactly, but I think it has something to do with immersing yourself in the recitation.
    "The worshipers of the Most Gracious are those who tread the earth gently, and when the ignorant speak to them, they only utter peace. In the privacy of the night, they meditate on their Lord and fall prostrate."
    "And they say, "Our Lord, let our spouses and children be a source of joy for us, and keep us in the forefront of the righteous." These are the ones who attain Paradise in return for their steadfastness; they are received therein with joyous greetings and peace."
    (Qur'an 25:63,74-75)
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  8. #8
    Fundamentalist Atheist Big Hype's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EOY View Post
    Many Muslims do that too (in Qur'an memorization circles usually).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3Svd8L7Z6I

    I'm not sure why exactly, but I think it has something to do with immersing yourself in the recitation.
    So it's just part of Arabian and Babylonian cultures, then.
    If you don't like what I have to say, you should probably move to Israel.
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    Abu Hurairah EOY's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Big Hype View Post
    So it's just part of Arabian and Babylonian cultures, then.
    How'd you come up with that conclusion? I don't see how any of this is distinctly Arabic or Babylonian.
    "The worshipers of the Most Gracious are those who tread the earth gently, and when the ignorant speak to them, they only utter peace. In the privacy of the night, they meditate on their Lord and fall prostrate."
    "And they say, "Our Lord, let our spouses and children be a source of joy for us, and keep us in the forefront of the righteous." These are the ones who attain Paradise in return for their steadfastness; they are received therein with joyous greetings and peace."
    (Qur'an 25:63,74-75)
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  10. #10
    Fundamentalist Atheist Big Hype's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EOY View Post
    How'd you come up with that conclusion? I don't see how any of this is distinctly Arabic or Babylonian.
    Then Middle Eastern or Mediterranean perhaps? I only said Arabian and Babylonian because Islam and Judaism originated in those regions.

    And I say it's cultural because it's not only limited to Jews.
    If you don't like what I have to say, you should probably move to Israel.
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  11. #11
    Fountainhead Organichu's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Big Hype View Post
    And I say it's cultural because it's not only limited to Jews.
    Well, it strikes me that they're for different reasons so the cultural link isn't too relevant.
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  12. #12
    Fundamentalist Atheist Big Hype's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Organichu View Post
    Well, it strikes me that they're for different reasons so the cultural link isn't too relevant.
    When did I imply that jewish culture is the same as muslim culture?
    If you don't like what I have to say, you should probably move to Israel.
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  13. #13
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    Originally Posted by Big Hype View Post
    When did I imply that jewish culture is the same as muslim culture?

    You didn't, I'm doing that. Jewish is one culture- Islamic is another culture. You're saying that this is a common trait of the two. I'm saying that regardless of that observation's truth, it doesn't really mean anything. I'm sure there are other religions (I can think of at least 20 major religions, there are dozens of minors) that involve kinetic prayer. You seem to be implying that it's distinctly endemic to these cultures.

    Probably just me nitpicking, but I don't really see your comment as making complete sense.
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  14. #14
    Fundamentalist Atheist Big Hype's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Organichu View Post
    You didn't, I'm doing that. Jewish is one culture- Islamic is another culture. You're saying that this is a common trait of the two. I'm saying that regardless of that observation's truth, it doesn't really mean anything. I'm sure there are other religions (I can think of at least 20 major religions, there are dozens of minors) that involve kinetic prayer. You seem to be implying that it's distinctly endemic to these cultures.

    Probably just me nitpicking, but I don't really see your comment as making complete sense.
    Well I'm not entirely sure if what I said is fact, but it could very well be.
    If you don't like what I have to say, you should probably move to Israel.
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    Originally Posted by Big Hype View Post
    ^^^

    What is the purpose to this movement?
    Poor balance?

    "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38,39

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    Originally Posted by EOY View Post
    Many Muslims do that too (in Qur'an memorization circles usually).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3Svd8L7Z6I

    I'm not sure why exactly, but I think it has something to do with immersing yourself in the recitation.
    I have also seen this done in Africa (Central and Southern), and Hindus as well..
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    Originally Posted by Nagalfar View Post
    I have also seen this done in Africa (Central and Southern), and Hindus as well..
    My kids do it all the time, and they're not even Jewish!
    "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38,39

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    to dodge bullets
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    I think some eastern rite Catholics and Orthodox do this too. I don't know why though.
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