Let's face it: to those who have not spent their lives immersed in the intricacies of Jewish text, tefillah and Jewish ritual can seem impenetrable, and somewhat hard to relate to for modern people. Why wake up early every morning to recite a litany of mostly-meaningless syllables in a foreign language? Why bind inscribed pieces of parchment to our heads and arms with leather straps? Why drape oneself in a rectangular garment with knots hanging off the corners?
If we do not feel the compulsion of commandedness (which is very hard for most of us to feel these days), these rituals may fall flat. But when I put on tefillin and tallit in the morning, when I recite the ancient words of Jewish liturgy, I feel the resonance of all the generations that came before me, generations of people who, I hope, felt closer to God than I ever will. And my ancestors used the same words of tefillah, liturgy that has been handed down to us today. Who are we to be indifferent to its power?
This historical resonance enables me to engage meaningfully with Jewish tradition.