Wednesday, November 23, 2005

MCAryeh Responds

My good friend MCAryeh from A Whispering Soul responds to the questions in "What Does It Say About You?":

What does your davening reveal about your emunah?

Davening is a challenge. I find myself resisting the words and procrastinating in getting to minyan. My mind wanders during most of the tefillot and I find it hard to have kavannah and to be present and mindful of who I am standing before. It used to bother me that the prayers were prescribed. I felt like these would not be the words I would choose to say to God and I think on some level I resented that specific words were set down for me to say. How could I have true passion for and express well words which were scripted? How could I have any kavannah or avoid everything coming out in a rote way? A Rav advised me to compose my own prayers to say in addition to the regular davening. I actually found that enormously helpful, and after writing them realized that they expressed many of the same things and themes as the prescribed prayers! I use these prayers sometimes during hitbodedut and sometimes say them right before going to bed. For a time, it helped my regular davening as well, but it was not long before that fell back into the same old routine. I felt a little better after a Rav told me it was virtually impossible to have kavannah during all of davening and just to pick certain times where I would redouble my efforts to have kavannah. So I try during the Shema and Shemoneh Esrei to concentrate on what I am saying and be cognizant of HaShem, but it is still a struggle. Certain prayers do resonate with me more than others, and I am thankful for those. The Friday night davening I find myself being very present for, so I guess that would indicate that my emunah is very strong on Erev Shabbat and kind of wavery during the rest of the week! Very often during davening, I find myself asking HaShem to help me to have kavannah, and that in itself is a form of prayer and indicative of emunah, so it is not all bad. For the most part, however, I am very disappointed with my davening.

Does your emunah shine through when you say a brocha?

Brachot are much easier for me, possibly because they are shorter or possibly because they are almost always followed by an action (or occasionally preceded), which adds gravitas to the words I am saying. I am very cognizant of HaShem and the blessings he has given me when saying a bracha. I cannot recall the last time I forgot to say one. Now that I think more on it, the specificity of the act and accompanying bracha is certainly what makes it much easier to have kavannah. If you are holding a fruit, and are saying words of thanks to its Creator, who is also your Creator, how can you not be blown away? I find myself especially humbled and in awe of the Asher Yatzar prayer, said after going to the bathroom, where we thank HaShem for all of the orifices and cavities of the body, and for allowing them to function properly. This kavannah has carried over into everyday life, and I do take time to stop as I am walking and thank HaShem for the trees or a warm breeze or for arriving at a destination safely. Birkat Hamazon is still something I have trouble concentrating upon - again possibly due to its length, or perhaps because I have never taken the time to actually read through and translate the words and concentrate on their meaning. In general, though, I think my emunah (awareness of God) does come through in the saying of brachot, though there is always room for improvement. I am glad you asked this question as well as the other, because after the last one I was really feeling down about how sad my davening is!

Responses from Frum Philly Farmgirl and Sweet Rose can be read here.


At November 23, 2005 at 6:40:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

MCAryeh: I also wish that I could connect to Hashem when davening with a minyan (or even by myself) the way I sometimes do during hisbodedus.

When do you find time for hisbodedus?

Do you find sometimes you struggle to find something to say?

At November 23, 2005 at 8:44:00 AM EST, Blogger torontopearl said...

A personal bit about davening:

Saying tefillot is often done by rote -- you read or say the words but don't often think of what they truly mean. Even if your knowledge of Modern and Ancient Hebrew is good.

For that reason, I often let my eyes stray to the English side(usually it's an Artscroll product, so it offers English translation) of the siddur or chumash or machzor or Haggadah and read the English from time to time. Sometimes I just better absorb what I'm reading, what my davening is about, when I do that.

At November 23, 2005 at 8:54:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Pearl: I can completely understand why you do this. A person cannot truly daven unless they know what they are saying and the meaning behind the words.

Since there are a lot of words in Tehillim that I still don't know, I use the Artscroll Interlinear version:

At November 23, 2005 at 1:27:00 PM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

ASJ - I make time for hitbodedut at night, before going to sleep. I don't struggle so much over what to say, because it generally builds up throughout the day - and hitbodedut is something I am thinking about during the day because I look forward to that time. Other times, I don't say anything but a repeated phrase, such as "kavei el HaShem,,,"

When and how do you do hitbodedut?

At November 23, 2005 at 1:38:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

I usually find time when I walk to public transportation in the morning - a mile walk (25 minutes)

Some mornings I find that I say a lot and some very little.


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