Liturgical worship requires silence of the heart for a person's encounter with God. Silence functions as an opening up of a person for the awareness of and communication with the Divine Presence in the Jewish worship service. The Siddur, the Jewish Prayer Book, is composed of prayers, psalms, biblical and talmudic selections, and benedictions. The liturgical role of silence is not quite noticeable in the Siddur, which gives order to prayer. Silence, however, allows for the worship of the Divine in the highest possible form.

The role of silence in the liturgy emerges from the paradox of worship. Jewish worship seeks to proclaim God who is deemed so great that words can neither adequately express praise nor adoration. This paradox is brought out in the Prayer Book.

In order to clarify the relationship between silence and the liturgy, it is first necessary to define the term silence and its causes in worship. Then the rabbinic concepts of worship and God are examined to establish the context for silence. This is followed by a discussion of study and kavvanah. Silence is perceived as an act of prayer which prepares the worshipper to pray the words of the Siddur with a reverent frame of mind.



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