Tag Archives: davening

WWYD – Minyan

It’s summer time and the living is easy. Well, easier than getting the kids up and off to school every day. The pace is more relaxed – life is less stressful. That being said, we never forget that we are religious Jews, and our religious practice still dictates the same things that they do in school time.

I have two boys over barmitzvah, one 9 months away from “becoming a man”. The KoD goes to shul every morning, to daven (pray) with a minyan (a quorum of ten men over the age of 13). I expect the same of my oldest two – and there is a later minyan than the 7 am one the KoD goes too. There is one at 8 am throughout the summer.

How much do I push for them to go? Shouldn’t this be something that should be their choice, or should I expect it of them and do my darndest to drag their tired selves out of bed? They can daven at home, but it is so much better to daven with a minyan.

What do you do with your teenage boys in this regard? What worked for you as a teenage observant boy? What are your thoughts?

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What else don’t I know?

My 14 year old son usually comes home from yeshiva for breakfast and lunch. We are 5 minutes walk from the school, so he has the time. I like it because I get to see him and make sure he eats properly, and I get him to do a chore or two meanwhile. This morning he emptied all the apartment’s trash cans and took it to the garbage room. Without complaints.

He usually strolls in around 9 am, this morning he was home at 8.30.

“Hey sweetie, what you doing home so early?”

“Um, yeah, its Behab”

“Behab?” no clue what he was talking about

“Behab, after the chagim, Behab, you know”

Turns out he didn’t exactly understand what it was either. So I turned to my references – Twitter Jew Crew. I tweeted “what the heck is Behab??”

Within 60 seconds I had some answers.

@yeshivaguy beis, hai, beis. Us menfolk do slichos in during the monday, thursday, monday following pesach/succos. Behab 4 short.

@judahe first Monday Thursday Monday (B”HB) after festivals.Some fast to atone for overindulgence of one form or another during chag

I was also directed to this blog which actually explains it better than I ever could.

I have been Jewish all my life, Orthodox all of it too. How is it that I keep hearing of things that I never heard of before? Is it because I had a Jewish girl’s education? And that I am raising boys now, so there are a lot of things that didn’t pertain to me, but that they are aware of? Sometimes I just feel as if I am so ignorant.

But it still doesn’t explain why my son was home early…why shachris was shorter. They did say tachanun….

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Be Quiet, for God’s Sake!

I don’t know about you but I like the whole davening in shul thing. I like the liturgy, a touch of chazanut, a shtickle Carlebach niggun, a good speech from the rabbi, and I am uplifted. Add in a decent kiddush after services, and I am good to go. I usually only get to shul Shabbat morning, so I really cherish my shul time.

Every shul is different with what level of background noise it will tolerate. I have heard of men being bodily ejected from shul because they were flapping their gums too much. Some shuls insist on silence only during Torah reading and the rabbi’s speech, other shuls there is a constant hum of conversation.

I can socialize after shul. Catch up on the latest gossip or shoe sales or sports stats or what-have-you. To me, that’s what a Kiddush is for. Why do people find it necessary to talk during shul? That is your time to pray to God.

“Sorry, God. Hold on a minute, God, Jay has to tell me what happened on the ninth hole erev Shabbat, I wouldn’t disrupt this one way conversation unless it was important”.

Seriously, have we become so jaded that talking in shul is normal? Look, I am not perfect, and have been known to talk in shul, but I really do try not to. There are some people, though, that spend the entire davening deep in conversation with their neighbour, barely pausing to daven the swiftest Amidah ever before they resume their discussion on the healthcare system, how they think Tiger Woods scored that hole in one, or that cute blonde that just walked in, or the rebbetzin who is looking a little heavy around the middle again, and her baby is only 11 months old!!

People! You are standing in a house of worship! You have come there to daven, to pray to God, to thank him for your abundant blessings and ask him to cure your aunt Millie and put more money in your bank account. Yet, in the middle of all that praising and supplication you press PAUSE so you can chit chat? Who do you think you are? No one tells God to wait. No one, not even Moses, can get away with that.

What if, in the middle of you talking to your neighbour, God decides He wants to talk to you? You won’t pick up on that because you have closed your spiritual pathways to talk to your friend. Hey, maybe God wants to tell you what lottery numbers to play this week but you are too busy talking about the Yankees that you won’t get the message. He wanted to answer your prayers but you let Him go to voice mail.

How hard is it to stop talking in shul, except to God? In a courtroom no one dares to speak. No one, or they are in contempt which means a fine. Or prison time. Or both. And the Judge is a human being, yet no one would dare make a cellphone call in the midst of a legal argument. The idea of talking in shul should be just as terrifying if not more.

We are standing there in front of God, and communally we are showing Him major disrespect. I would like to be able to daven in peace in shul, not be disturbed by inane chatter, whispering and giggling. Not have to hear the Gabbai pound on the Bima and say “we shall only continue when there is silence” – there should be silence as a matter of course.

We are coming up on Rosh Hashannah, and of course everyone will be silent in shul, as they will on Yom Kippur. We are being judged, of course we are going to be quiet. Come on, what a crock! God knows that we talked in shul last week and missed all the leining. God knows that we are going to talk next week in shul and the week after, and that we have no intention of shutting up in shul. Except the Day of Judgment. Because, you know, maybe we can pull the wool over His eyes. Give me a break. Stop talking now and stick to it, and concentrate on your prayers. Maybe, just maybe, you will reconnect with your inner spirituality. It won’t bring you the Maserati you have been dreaming of, but maybe you will sleep better at night.

I know that I am making a commitment to be quiet in shul from now on. I want to connect with God. I don’t want to just say words, I want to mean them and reflect on them. Don’t you be the one in shul to ruin my kavannah. God has a lot more up His proverbial sleeve that I have.

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Od Shlomo Chai – Reb Shlomo lives on

I lit the Shabbat candles with my precious children around me, bringing their light into our souls. As a family we left home to daven at a new minyan, eagerly anticipating the start of the service. Five weeks ago this weekly Friday night service started, billed as a Carlebachian minyan. This week was our first time attending.

 

The shul was filled to capacity when Kaballat Shabbat services started. There were only a few women there, but I was very proud to be one of them. The men’s section was packed. When the chazzan starting singing Lechu Nerananah it seemed as if Reb Shlomo was singing it himself, was there with us in that room. His beautiful melodies were channeled through the chazzan, and I felt my spirit lifting. By the time the second paragraph was started, everyone was singing along, feet were tapping, we were clapping, Puffin was boogying along next to me.

 

We segued into Lecha Dodi, the tunes so spiritually uplifting, such a balm for my soul. I felt myself carried up to a different plane. My eyes closed as I swayed to the music, my voice joined in with the others’ in song and devotion to G-d. There were tears of joy gathered in my eyes, and my heart knew a fullness it hadn’t felt in a long time. I have never been so moved by prayer as I was this night. I have never felt so free in my devotion to G-d. The tunes and melodies just kept coming – never has prayer felt so sweet.

 

When this beautiful rendition of Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv was over, there was dancing in the shul – pure joy at being Jewish, pure simcha to celebrate Shabbat together with our fellow Jews.

 

It has been about 15 years since I previously attended Friday night services. It isn’t done much where I live. Traditionally the women stay home, and the men go to shul. When I was personally invited to this minyan, I just had to try it out. I am so thrilled that we went. My boys even felt the specialness of the tefillah, and have told me that this minyan is where they will be davening every Friday night from now on. They are too young to truly understand how amazing Reb Shlomo was, but what they experienced Friday night gives them a solid foundation and understanding about how deeply spiritual prayer can be.

 

Even now, over 24 hours later, I am still moved, I can still hear the niggunim in my head. I will sign off now, wishing you a Shavuah Tov, a good week, and leave you with some clips of Reb Shlomo, may he rest in Peace. Part one, Part two, Part three, Part four, Part five, Part six , Part seven a , Part seven b, Part eight, Part nine a, Part nine b