Prayer Without Action is Simply Empty Noise

April 2, 2021

The narrative of Passover has many heroes and heroines. From the start of our story, we see the handmaidens, Shiphrah and Puah, disobey Pharoah and deliver Moses despite the command to kill every Hebrew newborn. We then watch Moses’ rise to leadership and read of Miriam who leads the Hebrew women on their journey out of slavery. And finally, we see heroism in Aaron, Moses’ brother, and the father of the priestly dynasty. No matter which hero or heroine you look at, the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt is truly a collection of infinite small acts of human intervention underscored by repeated events of Divine intervention.

However, the story of one particular hero, Nachshon ben Aminadav, is a tale of anonymity and heroism like few others in the Torah. We know of Nachshon from the supplementary writings of the Talmud and Midrash, even though the text of the Torah provides us with no specific account of Nachshon’s heroism and bravery. Because of this, the story of Nachshon has become synonymous with the viewpoint that prayer without action is simply empty noise.

We are familiar with the infamous joke of the man who relentlessly prays every day, multiple times a day, to win the lottery. Finally, after years expressing this enduring devotion the man hears a voice that pleads with him to “please buy a ticket!”

Prayer without action is like breathing without oxygen. You can go through the motions, but it will not create the needed outcome.

At the Jewish Federation we work every day toward a vision of a bright, active, safe, and prolific Jewish community of San Antonio and beyond. Our mission is clear, our plan is concrete, and our prayers are eternal. However, it is the dedication and specific action, like Nachshon taking the first step into the Reed Sea while Moses prayed to Gd, where our staff reaches out across ideological divides, political differences, and varying levels of wealth and capacity, to fulfill our mission.

This is a very special week for a particular Jewish Federation program. A 4-year initiative, this program has shown tremendous success and acceptance across all our local San Antonio Jewish demographics. This week, we concluded our second year of the LIFE & LEGACY® project having secured over 400 planned giving gifts, totaling over $9m in potential future contributions to agencies across the San Antonio Jewish community. We encourage you to visit the LIFE & LEGACY® page on the Jewish Federation website for more information, or feel free to reach out to Beth Keough, Director of Philanthropy, who is available to answer any specific questions.

As we wrap up our holiday of hope and freedom and pray that our children and grandchildren will have a Jewish community 100 years from now, let us ask ourselves, “What actions are we taking today to realize these dreams and prayers?”. No matter how you answer that question, our Jewish Federation is…

HERE for you.

HERE for our community.

HERE for our Future.


Shabbat shalom,


April 2 – Prayer Without Action is Simply Empty Noise

March 26 – Chag Pesach…

March 19 – First They Came For…

March 12 – A Prayer for Healing

March 5 – Combatting anti-Semitism

February 26 – A Story Without Supernatural Miracles

February 19 – Federation is Here

February 12 – The Three Definitions of “Shemah”

February 5 – One Nation with One Purpose

January 29 – Prayer, Action, and Perspective

January 22 – Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week

January 15- The Role of Our Tent 

January 8 – Shemot

December 31 – Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazak!

December 25 – A “Community-First” Approach

December 18 – Dreaming in Color: Dreaming & Planning for Our Community

December 11 – The Big Room

December 4 – Wrestling with Our Angels

November 25 – The People Who Give Thanks

November 20 – We are the Toldot

November 13 – Your Personal Life and Legacy

November 6 – The Value of Calm and Reflection

October 30 – We Must Come Together

October 23 – For Hope For Humanity

October 16- The Good and the Very Good 

October 9 – The True Celebration of Simhat Torah

October 2 – The Festival of Ingathering

September 25 – The Two Goats and Yom Kippur

September 18 – The 10 Days of Awe

September 11 – Be Strong and Courageous

September 4 – Acknowledging Good

August 28 – Embracing Multiple Perspectives 

August 21 – Recalibrating in the month of Elul

August 14 – A Blessing and A Curse 

August 7 – A Good Name and A Good Reputation

July 31 – Comfort, Comfort My Nation

July 24 – Words Have Power

July 17 – Our Hope and Promise for the Future

July 10 – It Shall be for You and Your Descendants After You

July 2 – The Indescribable Bond of a Community

June 26- Jewish Wisdom from Our Community and the Torah

June 19- Milk and Honey

June 12- The Next Chapter

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