In the modern Talmidi community, prayer-rooms were inspired by the ancient Israelite practice of going up on one’s roof to pray. In a cold climate, or in countries which do not have flat roofs, this practice was not possible, hence the idea of the prayer-room. Prayer-rooms are usually a small room on the uppermost floor, or a cordoned off section of a larger room, which has been set apart solely for extended periods of prayer and meditation in the home. Psychologically, having a place set apart for prayer helps induce a peaceful state of mind, and aids the individual in reaching a heightened mental attitude of prayer.
The need also developed out of the lack of Talmidi synagogues, to have a quiet space where small numbers of Followers of the Way could come together in an atmosphere of prayer and holiness.
By custom, on the wall facing Jerusalem is a plain white curtain, in front of which is a small, low table covered in a plain white cloth, with a menorah on top. In very small rooms where none of this is possible, one can have a plaque with verses containing the Holy Name on the wall facing Jerusalem.
Typically one has one’s collection of religious books near the back, since a prayer room is also used for meditation and the study of one’s faith. At the back is a comfortable bench, chair or armchair to sit in during one’s prayer or meditation. There are no images in the room.
Another custom is to leave one’s shoes outside the room, and enter barefoot. Once inside, one dons the tallit (prayer-shawl).
A couple of things should be borne in mind:
- you don’t have to have a prayer-room
- you can pray anywhere
It should be emphasised that this is only part of modern tradition, and should only be done if one finds such a thing helpful. The prayer-room is a suggestion, not an obligation.