One of my daily rituals is tuning into ” Pause for Thought ” on Chris Evans Breakfast show on BBC Radio 2. A person of Faith provides a “thought” in amongst the music and chat. On Wednesday the 1st October this task was allotted to Julia Neuberger who is Senior Rabbi at West London Synagogue. She is a regular contributor.
She was talking about Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jewish people.
This Holy Day was to take place on the Sabbath which was Saturday.
She illustrated her thought with a beautiful story about prayer.
The story was first told by an 18th Century Eastern European Rabbi (I am sorry I cannot repeat the name as I was unable to catch it). One particular Yom Kippur a poor and illiterate shepherd boy joined his congregation. Although the boy was deeply moved by the service, unable to read the Polish or Hebrew, he became increasingly frustrated as he could not join in with the prayers. So he started to whistle. He realised that this was the one gift he was able to offer to God as he was able to whistle beautifully. The congregation around him were horrified, urging him to stop immediately, telling him that he was being disrespectful and worst of all that he didn’t belong. The Rabbi quieted them informing the group that up until that point he had sensed a blockage to their prayers in reaching the Heavenly court. When the boy began to whistle, his whistling was so pure and so genuine that it opened up the communication of all their prayers. Sometimes the simplest form of communication and the most heartfelt, can be the most powerful.
Julia Neuberger rounded off her “thought” by saying that everyone is able to pray meaningfully to God and to have their prayers accepted by Him. Everyone’s prayers, everyone’s plea can be heard, whoever we are.
Although I am a Christian and not Jewish, I love to listen and learn from people of integrity of other Faiths. I hope I may prove to be a person of integrity also. I consider that listening to the stories and the wisdom of another enriches my walk with God.