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A Good Investment

12/15/2020 09:02:46 AM

Dec15

Rabbi Aryeh Feigenbaum


To paraphrase the famous quote attributed to Mark Twain about the weather, everyone complains about the speed of davening, but no one does anything about it. Some maintain it goes too fast, others insist it is way too slow, and I imagine there are a couple of people who think it is fine the way it is. This has been going on since our shul was founded, actually-- and is not unique to our shul. I remember discussing this with Rav Aaron Schechter at the time, and I commented, “people want to start at 6:45, finish at 7:15 and daven for an hour!”. 

Many of us spend between 30 to 90 minutes a day davening, more on Shabbos. That adds up to between 210 and 575 hours a year. For some it is a hallowed time, they look forward to, one of deep connection and meaning. For others it is a burden, a box that must be checked three times a day, an obligation that must be completed. But would we not agree that anyone who spends hundreds of hours doing an activity wants that activity to be meaningful? We all want to feel a sense of connection to Hashem, and that our tefillos matter. But how do we go about that? 

Last week, after I spoke about building good midos and developing character, someone used the topic to deliver a pointed message about davening. “I have developed the characteristic of patience, he said, “because I put up with the length of davening here.” I told him I understood his point, and the next day I continued the conversation he had begun. I asked him if he had undertaken any work on his davening. He was taken aback and acknowledged to me that had no idea where to start.

The gemarah refers to davening as: devarim haomdim brumoh shel olam u’bnai adam mezalzeling bo --matters of the highest level of significance that people treat with little respect.  Part of the zilzul, belittlement, is that we do not work on our davening. We assume it is what it is- but that is not productive, since this is one of the most critical ways that we connect to our Creator, it certainly is deserving of our constant attention...

Where to start is indeed a difficult question for many, but merely asking the question is a great start. So, ask yourself, “where would I start if I wanted to improve my davening? What would make a positive difference for me? I eagerly await your ideas!  There is no one answer, certainly not one for all. But let’s start an inquiry together. My email address is   rabbi@ohtd.org and I would love hearing from you. Who knows, your suggestion, if shared anonymously of course, could make a difference to others as well.

Wed, September 22 2021 16 Tishrei 5782