I'm considering starting a course on Iyun Tefillah - the study of prayers and the prayer book in my shul. Most of the members are "beginner" level. They read Hebrew at varying levels some don't read Hebrew at all and we use the Birnbaum Siddur in shul.

I'd like to include:

  • an overview of the history of Jewish prayer, in general - both private and public prayer

  • the history of shuls (such as when they began, required "architecture" like what items must be in a shul and their positions / spacing in the shul)

  • history of congregational prayer, and finally, history / organization of the Siddur (concentration on Nusach Ashkenaz, but I may delve into a general history of other nuscha'ot.)

I located www.beuereihatefila.com which many of you know I have cited from to answer various questions on Mi Yodeya. It has many good articles. But, it doesn't delve into some of the afore-mentioned topics in sufficient detail, and, I could use some other sources and ideas.

Can someone suggest some sources or, perhaps, ideas of starting topics that I may not have mentioned? Has anyone done this type of course? If you locate some course online either with notes or videos or a "syllabus", that would be an excellent resource for me.

  • Learning Masekhet Berakhot, from the beginning through chapter 5, would be a way of learning about reading shma and praying the amidah.
    – paquda
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 19:53
  • 2
    "Can someone suggest some sources or, perhaps, ideas of starting topics that I may not have mentioned" This seems very broad.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 20:00
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    מסכת ברכות לב/ב - המאריך בתפילתו ומעיין בה בא לידי כאב לב
    – Chaim
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 20:30
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    אֵלּוּ דְבָרִים שֶׁאָדָם אוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹתֵיהֶם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְהַקֶּֽרֶן קַיֶּמֶת לוֹ לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא... עִיּוּן תְּפִלָּה
    – paquda
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


"A Practical Guide to Davening" by Rabbi Avraham Katz is an excellent book that cites both the classic scholarship and practical instructions for improving the quality of prayer. It includes an in-depth discussion of the importance classic sources place on concentration during prayer and exactly what halacha instructs us to concentrate on during the various different parts of prayer. It also lays out practical step-by-step advice for developing from a novice completely unfamiliar with the meaning of the words in the siddur to fully appreciating the depth and meaning of the prayers every time they are said.

  • :) .................. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 20:12

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