“Hallelujah. Praise Hashem, O my soul! I will praise Hashem all my life, sing hymns to my God while I exist.” (Psalm 146:1)
A new book has an ambitious goal: to teach people around the world to pray in a manner that connects them to God on the same level as the Biblical prophets of Israel. The key, according to the author, is not in heaven but in the dirt under our feet. More specifically, the dirt of the land of Israel, the same dirt that the Biblical characters stood upon when they spoke to God.
Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel, co-founder of the Land of Israel Network, authored the e-book to teach this Land of Israel based prayer to the world.
“This book is making ancient Israel prayer practices available to the world,” Rabbi Gimpel told Breaking Israel News. “This is a prophetic path, deep and profound.”
In compiling the book, Rabbi Gimpel referenced Jewish sources, such as Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi, a 16th century mystic from Tzfat (Safed) known by the acronym Ari. He also relied on teachings from Hasidut, a branch of Judaism characterized by devotion and prayer. But Rabbi Gimpel emphasized that this approach to prayer is not exclusively Jewish.
“This is totally Jewish prayer, which, if done properly, is a universal prayer,” Rabbi Gimpel said. “That is why the Temple in Jerusalem was a house of prayer for all nations. This is the way the nations can pray to god, the way the prophets of Israel used to speak with God.”
Music plays an important role in Rabbi Gimpel’s personal expression of prayer. He produced a music video of a song he wrote of Psalm 146.
Hallelujah. Praise Hashem, O my soul! I will praise Hashem all my life, sing hymns to my God while I exist. Psalm 146:1-2
In the video, he explains to his son that the Hebrew word “b’odi” is usually translated as ‘my life’ or ‘while I exist’. But the more precise translation would be “with everything I have, and more.” Rabbi Gimpel explained that this is the essence of prayer.
“Prayer includes body, heart, and soul,” he said. “You have to sing to God with everything you have: your money, your whole life, your family, your job. How often in our lives do we get to flex that muscle? Your relationship with God is not separated into a specific religion. We are out of the buildings. King David went out of the box, into the desert, to have a powerfully holistic experience, to seek an encounter with God.”
“The music video is a physical expression of that psalm,” Rabbi Gimpel explained. “When we filmed the video, there is a scene where I am running through the desert. I was running with everything I had.”
The inspiration for the music comes from the land, specifically where he settled with his family at the retreat his organization established in Nahal Arugot in eastern Gush Etzion.
“I was having difficulty connecting to prayer in synagogues so about four years ago, I started coming to these hills, the hills of Yehudah, to pray in the early morning,” Rabbi Gimpel explained. Though he does not self-identify as a musician, his efforts to connect with prayer took a decidedly musical turn. “I would bring my guitar and just pour my heart out. Words began to come and so did melodies.”
Later he discovered that it was in that very location that a young King David composed many of the Psalms.
“King David was the first rap musician,” Rabbi Gimpel joked. “Rap is an acronym for rhythm and poetry. That is what psalms are.”
This musical-mystical experience is very place-specific, radiating from the land of his adopted home in Gush Etzion.
“There is something happening in Judea right now, an awakening of prayer,” Rabbi Gimpel said. He cited the Prophet Zechariah.
“King David established his throne in Hebron, in Judea, for seven years before moving to Jerusalem,” Rabbi Gimpel explained. “There is something happening now specifically in the mountains of Yehudah that parallels that process. A new level of prayer is beginning to appear in Yehudah but will lead to Jerusalem.”
“As the Jewish people return to the land of Israel, we need to step into the shoes that were prepared for us, the role that is our destiny,” Rabbi Gimpel said. “We need to be a light unto the nations. That is not just about morality or teaching Torah. It really is about spreading prayer. The theological debates have already lasted a millennium and they can last another millennium. But if we teach the world to pray, bring the light of prayer, if we can join together in God’s house of prayer. That is what will bring us together for the Messiah.”
The book and accompanying music can be purchased here.