Thursday, August 9, 2007
Differences in Davenen
Most of you know by now that I've moved out of Brooklyn and moved to a suburban/rural community upstate. If you can't figure out where it is I'm talking about out then you're not a "Heimisher." One of the delights of this move, and the sunbsequent schedule changes imposed by it, is the fact that you get to daven on the bus every morning. Shacharis has a whole different meaning when it's done in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a grumbling bus, while trying to maintain your balance during Shemone Esrei when the driver makes a sharp turn into the Turnpike. There's also the fact that you need to basically remain seated from beginning to end - with some standing possible if you're in the aisle seat - but no roaming the shul from one end to the other. You also need to be there from beginning to end; there's no arriving at Ashrei and leaving after Shemone Esrei like some us are known to do when we daven at a "stationary" shul. The only problem is that if you're forced to sit in a window seat you're also forced to sit during the whole davenen, including Shemone Esrei and Kedushah.
There's this one young man who davens on the bus who has a real geshmak in davenen. I mean that he sings the L-rd's praises as if he was just granted life all over again, which we all are. He utters every word clearly and meticulously, and has a nice tune to it as well. Like the old Yiddish-Teitsch Siddur says: M' darf davenen gelassen punkt vee m'tzeilt gelt. The only problem is that the rest of the minyan is a bit quicker than him, and he always is way behind the minyan come Shema or Shemone Esrei. So, our young man, who's also very careful about davenen with a minyan, skips most of Pesukei DeZimroh and rushes ahead to Birchos Krias Shema. He davens Shemone Esrei with the minyan and then proceeds to finish up what he missed after he finishes the back end, including Oleinu. This is not a one-time oiccurence; but rather a daily ritual. All this seems like somewhat of a paradox to me, although he's seemingly doing the "right thing."
It seems to me, and this is apparently the Chassidic approach, that davenen is more than just fulfilling your Shulchan Aruch obligations. Yes, we have an obligation to stick to the rules of davenen, but we also need to examine the Milsah BeTa'amoh that is so inherent in davenen. You can be Yotzeh the Hilchos Davenen daily by skipping to the end every day, but what kind of davenen is that? Is it ok to LeKatchilloh do this every single day? What I've seen over the years from Yidden Yerei Shomayim BeTachlis is that davenen needs to be done just the same no matter what, from the beginning and in the order it was made to be done. (with the possible exception of Hallel) If you arrive to shul when the Minyan is halfway done you don't skip ahead, but rather you daven just as if you were the first to arrive, from the very beginning. Otherwise it may be a body of Tefillos, but it has no "hent un fis." My only question is now: do I - in the spirit of Ahavas Yisroel - approach him, since he is an old friend, and tell him what I think about his daily routine, thus helping to make him a better person, or do I MMOB and let him enjoy his blissful existence?