Tefillah & Temperament


As Jews, we are obligated to tefillah (prayer). There are those for whom engaging with the Siddur three times a day is an easy and pleasurable experience. Others, however, will struggle with the regularity and fixedness of the prayers. It is incumbent upon us as leaders within our movement to call people to regular davening and yet understand that for many this is not a light demand. We can help them grow in their observance by understanding temperament and providing them life-giving ways to engage with the Siddur.

The Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator (MBTI) was developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers based on Carl Jung’s theories. The goal of this system is to help people understand themselves and others. In doing so, people will be able to better interact with others by giving them room to be themselves. There is a great volume of literature that applies the MBTI to a variety of environments such as the workplace, houses of worship, and marriage, as well as a fair amount of literature on personality and prayer.

I became a student of Myers-Briggs almost 20 years ago, after taking a course required for my training as a spiritual director. The MBTI is often criticized for being pseudo-science, but I was amazed at how accurately it described me and explained many of my life experiences. My personality is diametrically opposite of what Western society holds up as the ideal. Consequently, growing up I often thought that something was wrong with me and was frequently frustrated that I didn’t fit in. The MBTI has helped me to accept myself and to better understand others, and thereby give them room to be themselves.

Some people are fearful or suspicious of personality schemes such as the MBTI because they do not want to be put in a box. But the MBTI is meant to be descriptive not prescriptive. And it only speaks to general tendencies and trends. Just as there are many shades of one color, there are many varieties of people with the same temperament. Not all people with the same temperament will act the same. Additionally, there are factors like life experience that also affect how people think and behave.

The Eight Preferences

There are four measurement scales that comprise the Myers-Briggs Temperament system.

The first scale is Extroversion-Introversion. Many people misunderstand this to mean who is shy and who is outgoing, but this is not the case. This is the “How I Get My Energy” scale. Extroverts thrive and get more energized by being around others and interacting with them. Introverts get energy by being alone and engaged in reflective thought. Thus, introverts can be very outgoing and love socializing, but it will eventually wear them down and they will need time alone. On the other hand, there are extroverts who can be shy while in unfamiliar company.

The second scale is Sensing-iNtuition. This is the “How I Collect and Process Information” scale. Sensors use their five senses to collect information about the world around them. In contrast, Intuitives tend to rely on their gut instinct. For example, Intuitives can walk into a difficult meeting and immediately sense the tension in the air, whereas Sensors might be completely oblivious to it until they have had time to hear what people are saying, or read their body language. Thus, Sensors tend to be concrete analyzers and they usually have excellent visual abilities, excelling in arts, design, and spatial mathematics. Intuitives are conceptual thinkers and gravitate to abstract concepts. In my class the instructor grouped us by this scale and asked each group to describe an apple. The difference was stark and quite instructional. The Sensors came back with a list like; apples are red, can taste sweet or tart, have a star shape in the center when cut in half. The Intuitives came back with things like; New York City is called the Big Apple, the apple is the fruit that by tradition Adam and Eve ate, and apples are a fruit. Sensors tend to focus on the here and now and are usually very down to earth, “meat and taters” people. Intuitives on the other hand are future oriented and often considered flaky or dreamers.

The third scale is Thinking-Feeling. Again, it is often misunderstood to mean that Thinkers don’t have emotions or empathy, and Feelers can’t think. This is really the “How I Make Decisions” scale. Better terms, in my opinion, would have been Objective-Subjective. Thinkers tend to base their decisions on facts whereas Feelers take other more subjective criteria into account. For example, a Thinker interviewing two candidates with identical credentials might choose the person who went to the better school. A Feeler may lean more towards the other candidate because he knows this person needs a job to pay for her husband’s medical bills. A Thinker would consider this fact as irrelevant because it is not an objective criterion. Thinkers do indeed have feelings, though they may be hidden and not often expressed. And contrary to popular opinion, Feelers do have analytical reasoning skills. The decision making is just flavored differently. Thinkers tend to be more calculating and tend to criticize before complimenting. They can be considered cold by others. Feelers can be a little too emotive at times and tend to compliment before criticizing. They can be considered too sentimental by others.

The fourth and last scale is Judging-Perceiving. This is the “How I Like to Live” scale. This is also an unfortunate choice of terms as it makes people think that Judgers are harsh judgmental people. Judgers want to collect data using their Sensing or Intuition and make decisions quickly. Perceivers are reluctant to make decisions and want to keep collecting data; they like having options and are fearful a decision reduces them; it is burning bridges. Years ago, I had a high-Judging boss who liked to make decisions just to have a decision, even if it was the wrong one. As a moderate Perceiver, this drove me crazy. Judgers tend to be well-organized people, are usually on time for events, and are very detail-oriented. Perceivers tend to have messy desks and are often late to events because they were talking to someone or didn’t realize the time. I remember reading about a woman’s two married children who decided to paint their house. The first couple, who were both Judgers, carefully planned how much paint they would need, bought the paint, and painted their house. The other couple, both of whom were Perceivers, picked the color that they liked, bought a couple of gallons of paint and made three trips to the store because they kept running out of paint!

The 16 & 4 Types

These four scales in combination make up the 16 personality types; INFP, ENFP, ISTJ, ESTJ, ISTP, ESTP, ENFJ, INFJ, INTJ, ENTJ, ISFP, ESFP, ESFJ, ISFJ. Everyone is born with a natural inclination to one of these. They may learn over time to use the other functions as needed, but it will always take more mental energy to do so. For example, as an INFP, I can still be very organized, but it takes a greater effort and will leave me tired. Please refer to the appendices for more details about the 16 types.

These 16 temperaments can be grouped into four categories of common traits: SJs are ISTJ, ESTJ, ISFJ, ESFJ. NFs are INFP, ENFP, INFJ, ENFJ. SPs are ISTP, ESTP, ISFP, ESFP. NTs are INTJ, ENTJ, INTP, ENTP.

SJs are duty oriented people. They love structure and enjoy belonging to institutions that provide that structure, such as the military or religious orders.

NFs are idealists and focused on personal identity. They gravitate to the teaching and healing professions.

SPs are often artistic and make excellent troubleshooters, but are usually not as good at long-term planning. They often are drawn to emergency focused professions like firefighting, EMTs, police, and ER nursing.

NTs value competence very highly. They are drawn to professions like architecture, law, engineering, and graphic design.

In Myers-Briggs literature you will often find attempts to determine the temperament of famous people or even fictional characters. For example, some type Martin Luther King, Jr, as an ENFJ because of his deep commitment to his ideals and charismatic leadership. With his domineering attitude and harsh tongue, Andrew Jackson was most likely an ENTJ. A fictional character, Anne of Green Gables, is often characterized as an INFP because of her deep, imaginative inner life.

The Type of Jewish Spirituality

Years ago, I read a book that typed various Christian spiritualities. This led me to consider Judaism’s type. I came up with ISTJ. Introverted because, while historically Judaism was extroverted with a high communal element, in today’s world prayer and devotion are left more to the individual. Sensing because traditional Judaism is very concrete, focused on the here and now. This is exemplified in the greater focus on serving God here in this world rather than worrying about who is going to heaven, and by the adage, “If someone says the Messiah has come while you are planting a tree, finish planting the tree then go see the Messiah.” Thinking because traditional Judaism is also focused on facts with study being one of the highest forms of worship. And finally, Judging, because traditional Judaism is very structured and organized. For example, one prays a set liturgy three times a day, performs many mitzvot at specified times or situations, and the like. (I say “traditional Judaism” as there are many forms of Judaism today that I would not type the same way. For example, Jewish Renewal congregations are probably more ESFP than ISTJ!)

This means that people who are SJs are probably going to be very comfortable with traditional Jewish practice and piety. Other temperaments may struggle with the regularity and fixedness of prayers. In this paper, I hope to elucidate different approaches we can take to prayer that will help people enter and engage with our tradition.

The 8 Preferences and Prayer

Extroverts & Introverts

Extroverts will struggle with private prayer and silent retreats. These are the bailiwick of the Introvert. Extroverts will be more drawn to group discussion and projects. They will thrive in group prayer, whereas Introverts will want to pray alone where they can take their time and pray at their own speed.

Sensors & iNtuitives

Since Sensors take in their environment with their five senses it would be advantageous for them to pay attention to the sensory input that accompanies Jewish prayer. They can focus on the feel of the tallit around their shoulders, the tefillin wrapped around their arm and head, the rhythmic swaying during prayer (shuckling), the ritual objects in the synagogue sanctuary, and so forth.

Inutitives, as symbolic and conceptual thinkers, will best connect with these same things in the abstract. For example, one could ponder being bound to God while donning tefillin or enfolded in Hashem’s arms as they wrap themselves in a tallit. They will connect to the great themes of the Siddur such as gratitude, redemption, and the grandeur of God. This is the same with other ritual objects. A Ner Tamid is more than a light to an Intuitive. It also points to the light of Torah, to the Light of the World (Yeshua), and each person’s own light. Pondering on these things will feed an Intuitive’s soul.

Thinkers & Feelers

Thinkers are inspired by theology, the study of which will often lead them into worship. They will connect with the truths expressed in the Siddur and will be inspired by intellectual giants like Rashi and Maimonides.

Feelers are inspired by stories of faith and the emotive aspects of prayer. They will connect with the emotions expressed in the Siddur such as gratitude, love, peacefulness. They are inspired by Hasidic piety and the teachings of those like the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, or Nachman of Breslov.

Thinkers will enjoy wrestling with halachic principles and rulings, whereas Feelers will find more connection to aggadah.

Judgers & Perceivers

Judgers will enjoy the daily regimen of the Siddur, whereas Perceivers will struggle with this, preferring to engage with spiritual experiences as they come along. Judgers’ spirituality grows through their act of will, whereas Perceivers’ spirituality grows through an increased awareness of the divine. Judgers will be attracted to the regimen of Mussar, whereas Perceivers will gravitate more to Hasidic spirituality.

The Four Groups and Prayer

Another way to look at preferences is by the four groups; NF, NT, SJ, SP.

NFs are “seekers of goodness” and will find spiritual enrichment in emotive and mystical aspects. They will enjoy innovating new prayers, reading about giants of the faith, and meditation.

NTs are “seekers of truth” and will enjoy studying theology and concepts. Oftentimes this leads them to worship. Since they are goal oriented they will gravitate to Mussar with its focus on establishing goals and working towards them. They enjoy debate which, coupled with the desire for study, makes them excellent students of Talmud.

SJs are “seekers of order” and, as mentioned previously, are the ones most likely to resonate with traditional Jewish piety. They are often drawn to service projects, especially if they are also feelers. They will enjoy Jewish ritual as a way of connecting to tradition and history. They are best served by using their five senses in prayer and study. SJs will most likely enjoy Talmud study. SJs will also be drawn to Mussar practices.

SPs are “seekers of beauty” and will have the most difficulty with traditional Jewish prayer practices. In fact, SPs represent the lowest number of the four types that belong to organized religion at all. As Sensors, they will connect most with using their bodies in prayer. Walking meditation or prayer will be efficacious for them. Of the four types, they will most likely be the ones to be drawn to Hitbodedut; extemporaneous prayer outside, in nature. Because they can be very artistic they may also find value in mixing prayer with art, music or dance.

Flexibility in prayer

As I mentioned, Judgers will gravitate to the regularity of Jewish prayer whereas Perceivers will struggle with it. As an INFP I struggle with the regularity and fixedness of the Siddur. In my early years in our movement, I would go through periods where I would simply avoid the Siddur as I did not have the mental energy to daven the whole thing. I had an “all or nothing” approach and many times, therefore, I would do nothing. The problem with this is that it led to periods of dryness in prayer and no feeling of connection to the Jewish tradition or even Hashem. I was talking to a Reconstructionist rabbi one day and he said that he encourages his people to do “something Jewish” every day, even if it was very little. I saw the wisdom in this and began investigating options.

What I developed was a core set that I would always pray daily, but then added varied prayers. I always recite the Shema, the Amidah, and Aleinu. Some days I do different parts of Pesukei D’Zimra, or read different meditations or piyyut found in the Siddur. This provides variety and makes it easier for me to pray consistently.

In addition, I discovered that there are abbreviated forms of prayers instituted by the Rabbis. For example, there are several abbreviated forms of the Amidah and Birkat Hamazon. These forms can be used on days when people are just not up to davening the full liturgy.

Another approach would be for people to at times just recite the final barucha for each of the prayers in the Amidah.

I believe that this approach provides life-giving alternatives to those who struggle with the regularity of the Siddur.


Many people think of meditation as being the purview of Eastern religions, but there is a rich history of this within Judaism. Visual meditations involve contemplating some object, and can be very helpful for Sensors. In the Christian tradition this has usually involved icons, whereas in Judaism it has involved words. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Shiviti meditation drawn from Psalm 16:8, “I place God before me always.” There are many versions of artwork that are visually comprised of the text and other holy objects. The purpose of this exercise is to focus on being in God’s presence. People do a focused time contemplating the art and then try to carry it with them throughout the day.

Another example is meditation on a single word, such as the Tetragrammaton. Sometimes objects can be used. For example, the Zohar discusses meditation with an oil lamp.

There are also non-visual meditations that might be helpful for Intuitives. The early Hasidic movement developed a practice of extemporaneous prayer called Hitbodedut. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov recommended that if one was unable to form words to simply repeat a mantra such as “Ribbono Shel Olam.” A favorite of mine is drawn from the High Holy Day liturgy. I repeat “Adonai Hu Ha-Elohim.” I often do this even while driving down the road. It has an amazing effect of calming and focusing me on Hashem!

This is akin to a meditation technique called gerushin, in which one recites a phrase from Scripture repeatedly. An example is to recite the word “Shema” repeatedly while sitting with eyes closed. Draw out each syllable. Note that the “She” sounds like dissonance, white noise, whereas “ma” has a harmonic ring to it. This is symbolic of letting go the clutter and confusion in one’s life and replacing it with the harmony that comes from centering on Hashem. This technique can be effectively used when one is reciting the Shema as a way of centering down and developing Kavanah.

Holy Reading

Because our movement was born largely out of the Christian world, many of us, from a desire to replant ourselves solidly in Jewish soil, are hesitant to adopt practices of that world. While I applaud this, I also think it would be a mistake to not pull from that world where it has value. We just need to recast it into a Jewish idiom. This is, in fact, what has been done within the broader Jewish world already. One of the most efficacious Christian meditation techniques is called Lectio Divina, Holy Reading. It involves taking a very small text of Scripture or sacred writing and focusing on it for an intensive period. The meditator tries to put himself or herself into the scene or looks for a particular word or turn of phrase that strikes him as significant. For example, one could meditate on the Akedah and ask oneself, how was Isaac or Abraham feeling? What did the mountaintop look like? The ram? What would it be like to hold a knife over your son? What were the young lads thinking, left at the foot of the mountain? They may try to feel the wind in their face, or the heat of the fire. Or perhaps Abraham’s response “Here I am” strikes a chord and is worthy of further contemplation and prayer. In Lectio, readers can ask who they identify with in the scene. Am I the son, willingly giving himself up? Am I the father, afraid and yet committed to what God is asking for? Perhaps I am one of the lads waiting at the bottom of the hill or even the ram.

Lectio is useful for Sensors as they can use their five senses to immerse themselves into the scene and draw from that. It is useful for Intuitives in that they will find themes, typologies, and concepts that will speak to them. Lectio can be applied to Scripture, the Siddur, Midrash, Aggadah, and the like. (I have never tried it with Talmud, but I think it would be interesting to do so!)

These techniques open us up to hearing that “kol dimama daka” or still small Voice. Quite often one needs to spend many sessions with these meditations before they bear fruit. I usually recommend that people stay with the same passage for at least a few weeks, returning to it daily.


People engage the Jewish tradition from very different vantage points based on their temperament. It behooves us as leaders to encourage them to do so while also paying attention to their unique needs. If we simply toss them into the water, they will flounder. We need to understand that not everyone will tackle the enormity of Jewish practice with the same facility. We can guide them into entering these deep waters in a way that feeds them spiritually and yet encourages them to grow in their observance.


The 8 Preferences


Where We Get Our Energy


Energized by contact with other people or activities

Energized by ideas, solitude, and reflection.


How We Gather Data


Pay attention to their 5 senses

Pay attention to meanings, hunches, insights


How We Make Decisions


Based on facts, principles, truths, and logical analysis.

Based on their needs and the needs of others, values to be served, and circumstances.


How We Like To Live


Like to plan ahead, wrap things up, accomplish set goals

Like to keep their options open and enjoy what comes along.

*Everyone uses all eight functions, but their main four will be their preference.

The 16 Types











Where do I belong?



When are we going
to do it?



Who am I?



Why is it this way?







Most Responsible



Most Artistic



Most Idealistic



Most Independent







Most Loyal



Most Pragmatic



Most Contemplative



Most Conceptual







Most Driven



Most Generous



Most Optimistic


Field Marshall

Most Commanding







Most Harmonizing



Most Spontaneous



Most Persuasive



Most Inventive


Conservative and hardworking, values responsibility and service to others, is serious, trustworthy, and diligent, focused on duty and getting the job done, adheres to traditional values and dress, and is slow to accept new ideas. The SJ has a strict idea of how things should be done and frowns on deviation from it.


Playful, tends to live in the moment, have fun, get along easily with people, and be carefree and easy-going. They are impulsive and seek the next experience or adventure. This person does not spend much time planning or philosophizing, preferring to take spontaneous action.


They spend their whole lives searching for their unique identity. They love people and are champions of causes. They are more focused on the intangibles than the nitty-gritty of daily life, so they may appear detached or in another world.


Relentless in their pursuit of excellence, they are always testing the system. They intellectualize and theorize everything. They have their own standards by which they measure themselves and everyone else.

Preferences in Spiritual Practices

How We Get Our Energy



General Preferences

Talk and hear about spiritual things

Study and read about spiritual things

Group study

Personal study or one-on-one study

Service through group projects to help others

Service through personal reflection & writing to help others

Interactive group retreats

Silent retreats

Corporate prayer

Private prayer

Breadth of spiritual practices

Depth of a few spiritual practices

Consider the external world as the domain of spirit

Consider the inner world as the domain of the spirit

Jewish Spirituality

Will enjoy davening in groups

Will enjoy davening alone

May enjoy Jewish community service projects

May enjoy Jewish meditation

How We Gather Information



General Preferences

Gratitude for life & the present moment

Contemplating the mysterious & mystical aspects of life.

Regular sequential study of sacred texts

Poetic/creative writing to explore sacred themes

Sacred objects for remembrance & example

Sacred objects for inspiration and symbolism

Methodical spiritual disciplines

Inquiry & learning through synchronistic interaction between ideas

Following traditional rituals

Designing new rituals

Service to others through practical works

Service to others by inspiring them

Jewish Spirituality

Will enjoy the Siddur’s traditional text

Will enjoy the symbolism of the Siddur

Will enjoy using the same text every day

Will struggle with using the same text every day

Will enjoy tallit, tefillin, mezuzahs for their tradition value

Will enjoy tallit, tefillin, mezuzahs,etc for their symbolic value

Will connect to the history of the Jewish journey & its focus on the present

Will connect with the vision of the Messianic hope & restoration of Israel

How We Make Decisions



General Preferences

Take an intellectual approach to faith

Take an emotive approach to faith

Seek truths in sacred texts

Seek personal meaning in sacred texts

Inspired by theology

Inspired by stories of faith

Debate & dialogue on matters of faith

Discuss and persuade on matters of faith

Consider the plusses & minuses of spiritual practices

Consider the impact of spiritual practices on people or community

Service comes by working to establish truth, structures, standards, and accountability

Service comes by finding ways to involved with people and provide help to others

Inspired by intellectual giants of the faith

Inspired by compassionate giants of the faith

Jewish Spirituality

Connect with the truths expressed in the Siddur

Connect with the emotions expressed in the Siddur

Will enjoy Halakha

Will enjoy Aggadah

Will enjoy intellectual giants like Rashi and Maimonides

Will enjoy Hasidic greats like Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, Nachman of Breslov

How We Like to Live



General Preferences

Enjoy a fixed routine

Engage in various spiritual experiences as they come along

Spirituality grows through acts of will

Spirituality grows through an increased awareness of the divine

Values structured learning experiences

Values randomly occurring “sacred moments”

Spiritual practices that remind us of what we should do

Spiritual practices that remind us of what we are doing

Quick to decide what is right/wrong, good/bad

Seeks more information and may never fully decide what is right/wrong, good/bad

Service to others by setting aside time

Responding to the needs of others in the moment

Jewish Spirituality

Will enjoy the daily regimen of the Siddur

Will struggle with the daily regimen of the Siddur

Will enjoy the structure of the Siddur

Will feel that the structure is confining

Will enjoy Mussar

Will enjoy Hasidic spirituality

Spirituality of the Four Types

NF (Seeker of Goodness)

  • Jewish Meditation
  • Personal retreats
  • Reword prayers/scriptures to personalize it
  • Read inspirational biographies
  • Read works of Jewish mystics
  • Use rituals as symbolic input
  • Draw from the symbolism & Messianic hope expressed in the Siddur
  • Establish a core practice with the Siddur but then mix it up!
  • Use music, poetry, art to express feelings & symbols
  • Innovate new prayers/liturgies
  • Keep a journal of personal insights and inspiring quotations

NT (Seeker of Truth)

  • Study theology but use it as input to worship
  • Study what scripture and Jewish tradition says about a particular subject (envy, compassion, etc.) then compare to your own life
  • Mussar—Goals and evaluation
  • Talmud study (esp. NTJs)
  • Draw from the Truths expressed in the Siddur
  • Study new advances/discoveries in science from a spiritual perspective
  • Think about how you might contribute to Tikkun Olam
  • Engage in debate about spiritual matters

SJ (Seeker of Order)

  • Enjoy! You match traditional Jewish spirituality!
  • Service projects (esp. Justice issues or working to establish standards)
  • Mussar—Goals and evaluation
  • Talmud study (esp. STJs)
  • Use rituals as way of connecting to tradition
  • Draw from Gratitude expressed in the Siddur
  • Keep a journal of goals and plans
  • Practice simplicity
  • Do an imaginative meditation on a passage of scripture, envisioning the sights, sounds, smells, touch, tastes

SP (Seeker of Beauty)

  • Will have the most difficulty with traditional Jewish prayer
  • Walking meditation / prayer
  • Hitbodedut—Pouring out self to God, preferably in nature
  • Practice a repetitive sacred word or phrase while doing things
    • Ribbono shel olam,” “Adonai Hu Ha-Elohim
    • Nigguns
  • Art, Music, Dance
    • Handmade midrash
  • Incorporate prayer or thoughtful reflection with physical activities
  • Gardening, hiking, running, painting etc.
  • Use ritual objects as sensory input
  • Doing works of service (esp. meeting urgent needs)

Prayers of the 16 Types

ISTJ: Help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 11:41.23 am e.s.t.

ISTP: Help me to consider people’s feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.

ESTP: Help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually NOT my fault.

ESTJ: Help me to not try to RUN everything. But, if You need some help, just ask.

ISFJ: Help me to be more laid back and help me to do it EXACTLY right.

ISFP: Help me to stand up for my rights (if you don’t mind my asking).

ESFP: Help me to take things more seriously, especially parties and dancing.

ESFJ: Give me patience, and I mean right NOW.

INFJ: Help me not be a perfectionist. (did I spell that correctly?)

INFP: Help me to finish everything I sta

ENFP: Help me to keep my mind on one th-Look a bird-ing at a time.

ENFJ: Help me to do only what I can and trust you for the rest. Do you mind putting that in writing?

INTJ: Keep me open to others’ ideas, WRONG though they may be.

INTP: Help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.

ENTP: Help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I’ll settle for a few minutes.

ENTJ: Help me slow downandnotrushthroughwhatIdo.

Holy Reading (Lectio Divina)

Read (Lectio)

  • If needed, spend some time centering down before starting.
  • Say a short prayer inviting the Spirit to speak to you as he will in these words.
  • Read the passage over slowly at least three times. Allow the words to sink in. Let Scripture read you rather than you reading Scripture.

Reflect (Meditatio)

  • Try to picture the events. Place yourself in the scene. Pay attention to sights, sounds, smells, touches, tastes.
  • Do any words strike a chord in your heart?
  • Does anything evoke emotions of any kind? Joy, anger, sorrow, gratitude, fear, etc.
  • Do you identify with anyone in the passage? You may find yourself suddenly in the shoes of a person in the passage.
  • If something strikes you, meditate upon it. Why does it strike you so? How does it relate to your life situation right now?

Respond (Oratio)

  • Turn this into prayer. Talk to God about your feelings, desires, and dreams. Be honest! You cannot enter into true prayer without honesty.
  • Ask him to reveal to you why the passage caused a certain emotion or why a certain word/phrase captured your attention or why you identified with a particular person.

Rest (Contemplation)

  • This is a time when the activity of the mind is suspended and you just rest in God’s presence.
  • This is a sheer gift from God. Unlike the other steps, you cannot do anything to generate it. If it happens, enjoy!


  • You may want to stay with the same passage for days or even weeks, letting the Spirit mine the depths of your heart. Opening to God often does not happen quickly. You may find him revealing deeper and deeper things. Or he might bring up several issues. One day you may react to a phrase. The next you might find yourself identifying with a person in the passage instead. Accept each as God speaking to you.
  • You may want to journal your experience(s). Often insights are revealed over time. It will also help you discuss your experience with your director.

Isaac Roussel is the Assistant Rabbi of Congregation Zera Avraham. He was ordained to the rabbinate in 2014 by the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. Rabbi Roussel is also a trained spiritual director. In this capacity he helps people be attentive to God's voice in their daily lives. He and his wife, Julie, have three adult children and live in the greater Ann Arbor area.

Selective Bibliography

Buxbaum, Yitzak. Jewish Spiritual Practices. Oxford, UK: Rowman & Littlefield, 1990.

Goldsmith, Malcolm. Knowing Me, Knowing God. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1997.

Hall, Thelma. Too Deep for Words. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1988.

Kaplan, Aryeh. Jewish Meditation. New York: Schocken, 1985.

Keirsey, David. Please Understand Me II. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis, 1998.

Kroeger, Otto. Type Talk. New York: Dell, 1988.

Milgrom, Jo. Handmade Midrash. Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1992.

Myers, Isabel Briggs. Gifts Differing. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black, 1995.

Pearman, Roger & Sarah Albritton. I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just Not You. Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey, 2010.

Editorial Note: For a free version of the MBTI see https://mypersonality.info/