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Prayer: Secret Female Wisdom Tradition

It is possible that prayer was a secret female wisdom that was going on during the temple period. In the story of Hannah the high priest observes Hannah’s prayers but doesn’t know what she is doing. He thinks she is drunk. But if Rashi is to be believed Hannah’s co-wife Penina knew enough about prayer to try to mess with Hannah’s head to get her to pray; she deliberately mocks her for not having a son in order to get her angry and ultimately to pray. Hannah’s prayer is not actually to get something, because although she gets a son out of it she promises to give up the son so he can enter into divine service. It’s about establishing a relationship or exchange of energy. In this sense it may be a personal, extemporaneous, improvised version of the sacrifice system. In the sacrifice the animal is killed, offered to God, and then distributed to the sacrificer’s family and eaten. The same thing is given up and received back. The same with prayer, but the sacrifice is of intention, words, and desires.

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2 thoughts on “Prayer: Secret Female Wisdom Tradition

  1. “Hannah’s prayer is not actually to get something, because although she gets a son out of it she promises to give up the son so he can enter into divine service.” Oh, come on… She prayed to get a son and got one big time, no mater what she decided to “do” with him once he was born. You don’t loose your son once he starts serving in the Temple, do you?

    • I do think that the story shows that her desires were transformed by the experience of prayer. At least it shows that to me. There is certainly a way to interpret prayer as magical wish fulfilment,and I’m sure many have. I just don’t find it as interesting to do interpret it that way.

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