web analytics
September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘davening’

A Very Athletic Religion

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

I’m looking at this picture of Muslim worshipers on their hands and knees in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ma’ale ha-Zeitim (Ras al Amud) last Friday. In order to prevent riots on Temple Mount, police limited entry to Muslim men over 50, so everyone you see here must be younger. But still, I find the notion of falling down on my hands and knees five times a day both physically demanding and socially awkward.

I can’t stand it when the guy sitting next to me in shul leans too close to my area during davening. In fact, our tradition requires maintaining a bit of open space in front of each person during the Amida—STANDING prayer. I can’t imagine being down on the floor, tight with the guy and the whole shul – what is this Swedish gymnastics?

We do it a few times on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur every year, and it’s very special and inspiring, and I get that this is the way they used to do it in the Temple—once a year, when the High Priest called out the full name of God. But every day? Not happening.

When we do the holy bending on the Days of Awe, I get the submission thing. And I know that Mohammed or someone like him borrowed the falling on the knees thing from the Jews. Nevertheless, if this ever becomes the way we daven all the time, I’ll be davening at home.

Sliman Khader/Flash90

Sliman Khader/Flash90

Davening–Praying Can Be Good for your Health

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Davening – praying – may not top physicians’ prescribed regimens for boosting health, but it benefits both mind and body beyond the spiritual elevation that comes with it.

Davening provides mental stimulation that helps keep the brain healthy, as an active mind has less chance of memory loss over time. With prayer services of substantial length, davening requires focus, concentration, discipline, and proper articulation, not only to get through the prayers and passages but to finish them on time, since in a minyan you’re praying together with others.

It could be argued that with the repetition of the same prayers week after week, year after year, the congregant is more or less able to daven by rote. That may be true, but there are a lot of words to recall, so even when the prayers are recited by rote, the mind is still stimulated. Indeed, whether one davens from memory or finds new challenges with each recitation, davening, for those of us who do so regularly, is like a daily mental workout.

If Hebrew is not your native language or one in which you are fluent, carrying out this endeavor has additional mental benefits; the recitation is even more challenging and therefore provides a better workout for the brain.

Davening is not a sedentary act; there are specific motions that accompany particular passages. During the course of the service the davener stands, sits, stands, bows, straightens up, turns, takes steps backward and forward, sits, stands, sits, stands, bows, and so forth. It’s not running, it’s not bench pressing, it’s not a high-energy workout, but it’s movement – and that can only be counted as positive.

For some people, particularly the elderly, davening may be one of the few forms of exercise they get. Done multiple times daily or weekly, it contributes to the minimum daily exercise recommended by various health authorities to increase longevity.

There are ancillary benefits that may be associated with davening. How does the davener get to synagogue? Walking is, of course, always healthy, particularly at a brisk pace. Davening at shul is a communal activity, and the camaraderie can lead to higher self-esteem and well-being and thus to better mental health. Singing prayers as part of a group can have similar benefits.

Some who daven are able to read or recite the Hebrew in the siddur but don’t know what the words mean. It behooves the davener to be able to translate the words properly in order to get the full benefit of davening. This provides further mental stimulation.

Because the text has so many layers of meaning, even the seasoned davener who understands what is being recited may discover new interpretations or challenges, which also helps keep the mind active.

Of course, correlations have been made between faith and well-being, and some elderly people have attributed their long lifespan to their faith. So these are benefits on top of the act of davening itself.

Davening can be a conduit to a sharp mind and a limber body. For religious fulfillment and mental and physical stimulation, it is a win-win practice. It’s never too late to start davening your way to good health.

‘Mincha Starts in 3 Miles’

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Motorists on Highway 6, or Kvish 6 as it is known even to English-speakers, has cut the travel time from the area east of Haifa to towns slightly north of Be’er Sheva to 75 minutes. Most motorists can easily pray morning and evening prayers at their homes or destinations, but they often are stuck without a minyan for afternoon mincha prayers.

Stopping along the shoulder to daven is common, but it poses a safety problem and does not allow fulfilling the mitzvah of praying in a minyan.

Rabbi Shmuel Rosenberg solved the problem on a northern highway several months ago by putting up two Chabad stations for public prayers, but there was no solution for the privately-operated Kvish 6.

Rabbi David Grossman of Migdal HaEmek asked the operators of the toll road for permission to allow a “prayer station.” Security officers did not object, and drivers on Sunday found that a small structure serving as a synagogue was placed at a rest stop on the northern part of the highway, under the supervision of Rabbi Rosenberg.

He said it will operate 24 hours a day and will include books for study, enabling motorists not only to daven in a minyan but also to take a break from driving and learn Torah.

Kvish 6 said that signs will be erected so that drivers know they will have a place to pray.

The highway’s director Udi Saviyon, said, “I promised Rabbi Grossman that we also will operate a synagogue in the opposite direction,” for southbound drivers,” and we will try to do this as soon as possible.”

Rabbi Grossman stated, “Drivers need prayers to arrive safely to their destination, and I have no doubt that this synagogue will protect them.”

When One Forgets To Say Vesein Tal U’matar

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

The Jews living outside Eretz Yisrael began reciting vesein tal u’matar in the Shemoneh Esrei this week. If one does not say vesein tal u’matar (instead continuing to say “vesein berachah”) and finishes the Shemoneh Esrei, he must repeat the Shemoneh Esrei. If one accidentally does not daven at all, he must daven two Shemoneh Esreis during the following tefillah. If one did not say vesein tal u’matar and finished davening and only remembers this fact at the time of the next tefillah, he must daven two Shemoneh Esreis at the next tefillah.

If one does not recite ya’aleh veyavo during Shacharis and only remembers to do so during Minchah, he must daven two Shemoneh Esreis during Minchah. Tosafos, in Berachos 26b, says that if one forgets to say ya’aleh veyavo at Minchah on Rosh Chodesh or on any other day that we recite ya’aleh veyavo, he does not repeat Shemoneh Esrei during Ma’ariv. This is because at Ma’ariv he can no longer say ya’aleh veyavo since Rosh Chodesh is over, and he already davened the 19 berachos of Shemoneh Esrei. As the only reason why he would repeat the Shemoneh Esrei would be to say ya’aleh veyavo, he should not repeat the Shemoneh Esrei at all since he cannot recite ya’aleh veyavo during Ma’ariv (which is the next day).

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik (stensils 1) says that the halacha of Tosafos does not apply to one who forgets to recite vesein tal u’matar on Friday by Minchah. For even though he will not be able to say vesein tal u’matar by Ma’ariv (since it is Shabbos), he must nevertheless repeat the Shemoneh Esrei. He explains that this is because when one fails to say vesein tal u’matar it is different than when one does not recite ya’aleh veyavo. Even if one forgets to say ya’aleh veyavo, he has fulfilled his obligation in davening – except that he lacks having recited an external prayer, namely ya’aleh veyavo.

On the other hand, when one fails to mention vesein tal u’matar he lacks having said the actual berachah of “bareich aleinu” and has therefore not fulfilled his obligation in davening. Vesein tal u’matar is not an external prayer that we insert into the Shemoneh Esrei; rather, it is part of the actual berachah. So when one does not say it he has not fulfilled his obligation in davening and it is as if he had not davened at all. As a result he must daven two Shemoneh Esreis at Ma’ariv on Shabbos, even though he will not be reciting vesein tal u’matar in those Shemoneh Esreis.

Many have asked the following question on Reb Chaim’s halacha: The Gemara in Berachos 29a says that if one does not mention vesein tal u’matar in its proper place (in “bareich aleinu…”) he can say it in “…shomeia tefillah.” The halacha follows this Gemara, as it is found in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 117:5. If vesein tal u’matar is indeed part of the actual berachah of “bareich aleinu,” how can one say it in a different berachah?

If one only remembers that he forgot to mention vesein tal u’matar after he has already passed the berachah of “shomeia tefillah” but before he has finished Shemoneh Esrei, there is a machlokes Rishonim as to where he must return to in the Shemoneh Esrei – “bareich aleinu” or “shomeia tefillah.” Tosafos, in Ta’anis 3b, says that one should return to the berachah of “shomeia tefillah.” The Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah 10:9) and the Shulchan Aruch say that one must return to the berachah of “bareich aleinu.”

It seems that the Rishonim who opine that one should return to the berachah of “shomeia tefillah” do not believe that vesein tal u’matar is part of the actual berachah of “bareich aleinu” They believe that it is an added request (bakashah) that can either be inserted in the berachah of “bareich aleinu” or “shomeia tefillah.” Therefore, when one realizes that he did not say vesein tal u’matar and has already passed “shomeia tefillah,” he should go back to the nearest berachah where he may recite this request.

The Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, who both say that one should return all the way back to the berachah of “bareich aleinu,” seemingly hold that vesein tal u’matar is part of the berachah of “bareich aleinu” Hence they say that one should return to “bareich aleinu” even though the berachah of “shomeia tefillah” is closer. The reason why we allow one who forgot to say vesein tal u’matar in “bareich aleinu” to recite it in the berachah of “shomeia tefillah” (if he remembers before he gets there) is because the berachah of “shomeia tefillah” serves as a tashlumin for all the middle berachos of Shemoneh Esrei. Similarly, if one forgot to say any of the integral parts of any other middle berachah, he would be able to make it up in the berachah of “shomeia tefillah” (see Be’er Halacha 117:5 d”h im). But when one forgets to mention it even in the berachah of “shomeia tefillah,” the halacha of tashlumin no longer applies and he must return to the berachah of which it is a part – namely “bareich aleinu.”

Events In The West

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Prayers for Israel: All over the West Coast, from San Diego to San Francisco to Los Angeles inland to Arizona, and from Las Vegas to Texas to Utah, prayer sessions are taking place daily in shuls and yeshivas for the state of Israel and its IDF. Those who can’t attend the public sessions are saying those same prayers at home. We all hope that by the time you read this, peace will prevail in Israel.

Events In The West: On December 14, YICC will hold a freilich Kabbalat Shabbat davening, led by Yehuda Solomon… From December 24-28, Merkaz HaTorah Community Kollel in the Pico-Robertson area of L.A. will host a yarchei kallah.

Shul News: The latest strategy to get teens to come to minyan on their days off from school and on Sundays is the offer of raffles, featuring sports clothes from hometown teams with snacks following the davening.

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Raphy and Michal Shapiro, a daughter… Adam and Joy Kushnir, a daughter.

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Eitan Feifel, son of David and Meira Feifel.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Yosef and Sima Bondi, a daughter (Grandparents Howard and Gity Gluck; Great-grandmother Shirley Gluck)… Noah and Marissa Streit, a son (Grandparents Aric and Mary Streit)… Rabbi David and Dr. Ayala Levine, a son (Grandfather Dr. Robert Levine)… Richard and Charlotte Glaser, a son (Grandparents Joseph and Laurene Agi)… Seth and Jenna Rubin, a son… Avi and Aliza Gruen, a daughter (Grandparents Jeff and Judy Gruen; Manny and Sharon Saltiel)… Katriel and Sonia Green, a son… Yosi and Menucha Burston, a daughter… Yoel and Vani Hess, a daughter… Alon and Orlie Zak, a son… Yoni and Chaya Udkoff, a son (Grandparents Drs. Ranon and Rivkah Udkoff of Westlake Village, CA)… Joe and Rochel Socher, a daughter.

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Jonah Kaye, son of Barry and Nancy Kaye… Yuval Harary, son of Avishay and Ravit Harary… Avi Klein, son of Kolev and Shoshi Klein… Yochanan Gabaie, son of Albert and Fardeih Gabaie… Benjamin Goldstein, son of Joey and Tracy Goldstein… Jacob Weiss, son of David and Michele Weiss.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Bracha Stolz, daughter of Joseph and Judith Stolz, to Moshe Hildesheim of Lakewood, NJ… Toby Weiner, daughter of Rabbi Avraham and Frumie Weiner, to Yosef Perkal… Daniela Mordecai, daughter of Dr. David Mordecai, to Dov Kracoff… Chaim Abramson, son of Naftoli and Susan Abramson, to Devorah Elefant… Ayla Simons, daughter of Dr. Steve and Doni Simons, to Betzalel Levin, son of Daniel and Nancy Levin.

Mazel Tov – Weddings: Harry Etra, son of Don and Paula Etra, to Daniella Schwartz… Tzivya Isaacs, daughter of Yaakov and Rayme Isaacs, to Yehuda Newman.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Jacob Rubenstein, son of Zev and Janet Rubenstein.

VALLEY VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Yechiel and Chavi Leifer of Lakewood, NJ, a son (Grandparents Rabbi Shelaim and Esther Furst)… Avi and Yael Pinsky of Teaneck, NJ, a daughter (Grandparents Barry Pinsky and Linda Scharlin).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Simcha Rauch, son of Rabbi Zev and Rochel Rauch.

DENVER, COLORADO

Mazel Tov – Birth: Rabbi Marc and Sara Gitler, a daughter.

Air Raid Sirens Sound In Jerusalem

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

For probably the first time since the Yom Kippur War nearly 40 years ago, air raid sirens sounded this week in Jerusalem and environs.

The sounding of the sirens occurred about two minutes after sundown on Friday, such that Sabbath-observers had no direct way of ascertaining where, what, how many, or who, if anyone, was hurt.

Nor did any of the hundreds of thousands of people who heard the sirens have any immediate idea that they were not the only ones to be affected. That is, the residents of Gush Etzion, 20 miles south of the capital, did not know that similar sirens were warning the residents of Jerusalem, who in turn were unaware that people in Beit El and Psagot, another 15 miles to the north, were also running toward their protected areas at that very moment.

And certainly those in Telz Stone, a few miles west of Jerusalem, could not imagine that they were not alone in their sudden panic. In short, myriads of citizens over a wide swathe of Israel were simultaneously rushing to find shelter while asking themselves, “Are the Hamas missiles actually reaching us, too? Might one of them actually land next door – or even closer?”

Missiles were not the only things flying that day. The atmosphere very quickly, and throughout the Sabbath, filled with rumors of all types: A rocket hit Mevaseret, just west of the capital; Two Arabs killed in Abu Ghosh, adjacent to Telz Stone; Jerusalem is under fire.

Only after Shabbat did everyone find out with certainty what had happened: Jerusalem was not under fire. Rather, one rocket had been fired toward eastern Gush Etzion, about seven miles south of Yerushalayim and five miles east of Efrat; no one was hurt – not there, or in Jerusalem, or Abu Ghosh, or anywhere else in the vicinity. It was, however, probably the farthest a Hamas rocket had ever reached.

Many, like Jerusalem Deputy Mayor David Hadari, thought at first that the siren had sounded in error. “We were in the middle of the Kabbalat Shabbat prayers when we heard it,” he said, “and we thought it was just a mistake. But we soon caught ourselves and realized this was serious. We went down to the lower floor and continued davening there.”

In other shuls, the worshipers had no place to run to, so they ducked under their shtenders and benches, or stood against inside walls, or possibly did nothing. Residents of the greater Jerusalem area truly don’t have much experience in dodging missiles. As one social networker put it, “Even Saddam Hussein didn’t aim Scuds at Jerusalem.”

Hamas actually bragged that it had fired three missiles at Jerusalem, including one at the Knesset – just one example not only of wishful thinking on its part, but outright lying. It also reported, in its attempt to raise the spirits of the demoralized Gaza populace, that it had shot down an Israeli F-16 jet fighter and a reconnaissance aircraft, that Israel had closed Ben Gurion International Airport, and that electricity had been knocked out in southern Tel Aviv.

Lying and deception, of course, are the least of Hamas’s crimes. In addition to premeditated missile and other attacks on innocent Israelis over the past 13 years, Hamas violates international law by endangering its own civilians. In fact, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) cited Hamas for storing “explosive devices” in “civilian-populated areas,” thus “threaten[ing] the lives of Palestinian civilians and violat[ing] international humanitarian law.” Though Israel holds its fire when it finds civilians in the way of legitimate military targets, some civilian deaths are unavoidable – especially when, as often happens, Hamas purposely brings women and children to locations Israel is expected to target.

Israel, for its part, had, as of Monday, bombed over 1,100 Hamas targets, including Hamas television and radio offices. The IDF took over Hamas radio broadcasts and warned the Gaza citizenry to stay “far away from Hamas men, as the IDF prepares to begin the second stage of the offensive.”

Questions abound: If Hamas is interested in hitting Jerusalem, why has there been only one such attempt? Does Hamas care if any of the many Arab villages nearby suffer the hit instead? Does Hamas really want to hit the Knesset – or possibly the Temple Mount?

It’s Not Just About The Internet… We’re Creating Apathetic Robots

Monday, November 19th, 2012

The Orthodox Jewish world continues to seesaw back and forth about the pros and cons of the Asifa on Technology at Citifield in New York.  Debates abound about on the best Internet filters, blocks and technological band-aids to which will surely repair the dangerous environmental influences of the outside world. Let’s ban or block the Internet and suddenly our children will be less distracted, our communities more heimish and our learning and davening more for the sake of Heaven instead of rote blabbering to get it over with.

In 1944, Rav Eliyahu Dessler said in Strive for Truth (v.3, p.143) “Human beings believe, in their arrogance, that if they continue developing the world on the basis of ever expanding technology they will eventually achieve an environment that will afford everyone unlimited gratification of the senses and a life of ease and pleasure. So long as people remain ‘takers,’ their efforts will inevitably be directed toward selfishness…”

With the advance of technology and the ease of availability, the temptation of distraction has become a daily struggle for Jews across the spectrum to remain upright, even in their own homes. But the Internet is only part of the problem. Go into almost any shul today and you’ll find congregants reading their emails on their cell phones and leaving davening to answer their phones, tallis over their heads and tefillin perfectly squared. Attend any d’var Torah, graduation ceremony, wedding or bar mitzvah and you’ll find people distracted with texting.

The real problem is chutzpah and selfishness, and parents are teaching it to their children by their own actions, and then wondering… what went wrong.

Rabbeinu Bachya asserts in Duties of the Heart: “Their evil inclination induces them to abandon the spiritual world wherein lies their salvation… it makes self-adornment more attractive to them… it impels them to gratify their desires for self-indulgence… until they are sunk in the depths of its seas.”

In the rush to satisfy our thirst for instant gratification, information and acceptance, we’ve created a Jewish society devoid of cohesiveness and spirituality, full of chutzpah and apathy. As Rav Dessler predicted 68 years ago, “They persist in thinking that soon, very soon, they will hit the right formula, and if not in this generation, then in the next, universal happiness will come. And so they bring up their children to study nothing and think of nothing but technological advancement…” (Strive for Truth, pg. 152).

It seems that children and adults 68 years ago were also steeped in the excesses of technology, although it was not as insidious as in our generation. Unfortunately, Jews today are becoming apathetic robots. In their quest to look frum, with their starched white shirts and impeccable Borsolino hats, and in keeping up with the Goldbergs, they have truly collapsed into a materialistic society, all “for the sake of Heaven.”

Consider the case of Yaakov, who goes to the store to buy a pair of expensive shoes on sale at a department store, known for its lenient return policy. There he meets his friend Shimon, who has just bought the same pair of shoes Yaakov wants. Shimon relates to Yaakov that he “purchased” the $300 pair of shoes for only $200 by switching the price tag while no one was looking, and that Yaakov can have them for $250, thereby saving him $50 while Shimon makes some money on the deal.

Shimon is proud of himself and Yaakov gets a bargain.

Where I come from, this is called stealing.

Or consider Reuven’s practice of going to an outlet store to buy fancy white shirts for Shabbos, in order to sit and learn in one of America’s finest yeshivos, where he wouldn’t dare stand out wearing a blue shirt. Lo and behold, Reuven ends up at the local Nordstrom return counter, telling the clerk the shirt is imperfect and he wants to exchange the shirt or get a refund.

Why would religious people, steeped in Torah learning, resort to lying and stealing?

The Orchos Tzaddikim in Sha’ar Hasheker says, “Alchemists turn copper into gold where even the experts cannot tell the difference. So it is with the mind of the charlatan. He rationalizes and justifies his lies until they appear even to him as truth.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/its-not-just-about-the-internet-were-creating-apathetic-robots/2012/11/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: