Wednesday, March 30, 2011


A few weeks back I authored a post about outdoor prayer. As I think I made clear, my preference is to remain indoors for all of the reasons that I mentioned. I also find it stifling to davenin in an enclosed stuffy location. In fact, there is a custom of at least building btei kenset (synagogues) with windows. This morning I believe that I came to the realization that a hybrid option could be preferable.

Today was the first day that the morning air was warm enough to allow for the Pardes windows to be opened during shacharit. The still sparse traffic was not terribly noisy, and the breeze was gentle enough to get the air in the room moving. I went on to have a very meaningful davening, that stuck with me for the duration of the day.

What's the point here? Environmental sensitivity can have an incredible impact on our prayers.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Individual

Let me begin this brief post by expressing explicitly that I believe wholeheartedly in communal prayer as a viable and necessary outlet of group expression. Furthermore, please do not leave your respective minyanim in a situation where they will be without a minyan, just for the sake of this post. Nor should those saying kaddish forgo the public space. Disclaimer concluded.

Over the past few weeks I have come to greatly enjoy davening alone. In the context of the community, you are bound to certain rules of davening courtesy. Not too fast, not too slow, not too loud, etc... When you're alone, none of those pressures apply. I have been able to be as vocal or emotional as I feel necessary without the fear of who might or might not be watching. My mumbling (discussed in an earlier post) can be as loud as I want, screaming, should I desire it, or even singing. I am free to move as I feel fit. Whether that manifests as pacing, shuckeling, or swaying, I know that nobody's space will be invaded. Practically speaking, individual davening also serves as an opportunity to hone skills as a shaliach tzibbur. In this way, I think the lessons learned can be taken back into the communal environment.

I would urge others to give individual davening a try, we may learn a lot about ourselves as a community of daveners if we give ourselves that chance.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Inside or Out?

Davening in sacred spaces has received several mentions on this blog, usually referring to indoor areas. Having just completed a three day tiyul in the Golan Heights, we had several opportunities to daven outdoors. After these few days, and other experiences, I can safely say that I do not personally find outdoor davening to be a moving experience. I know that there are a number of people who relish the opportunity to daven outdoors, in front of the miracles of creation, and with the wind in their hair. While all of those are fantastic reasons, for me the setting is simply too distracting. There are too many things to look at, dirt to kick, birds to hear, and others. Halakhically, I found it difficult to hear the shalich tzibbur. I am certainly not, nor would I ever, tell somebody not to daven outside. In fact, I would recommend it as an experiment. I'd be curious to hear about the experiences of others.