Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Prayer of the Gentiles

I saw a movie yesterday - a church scene - people praying very hard. Praying to ease their burdens, the miseries in their life. For happiness, for health. Others praising, singing, dancing. The driving bass of Gospel music.

In "Portnoy's Complaint", there is a line that says something to the effect of that growing up, Portnoy could only see the world as either Jewish or goyish; no other categories were really important. I sometimes feel like I was born with the same affliction. As I reflected on this movie scene, I began to wonder whether G-d listens to the prayers of all the goyim.

We are always taught that the Jews are the chosen people. Quite a bit of parchment has been used up to discuss exactly how we should pray, the liturgy, the choreography. The right time of day, the thinking in G-d's head as He listens to our prayer. But the gentiles' relationship to G-d is always defined in terms of the Jews. Is that the only way they can relate to G-d?

Some of them pray to false gods - do they have no hope of their prayers being heard? What about those who don't know any better - are they like the unbaptized infants in purgatory? This concept bothers me because at a basic level, all these people are praying for the same things - health, happiness, deliverance. Will G-d answer their prayers?


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