Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Watching You Daven

How does your davening change when you know someone is watching you?  I am not speaking about your teacher or rabbi, who might peek over to see if you are chatting with a neighbor, on the right page or have fallen asleep (I have seen this last one quite a bit).

I just got off an airplane trip where it was apparent that the person sitting next to me was so fascinated at the Jewish approach to davening that he was carefully studying each and every one of my moves.  For me, this emphasized the performance aspect to our worship in that we are proscribed to follow the directions and script of the specific tefilla. One equally needs to imbue their personal imprint onto the text and make it a 'service of the heart' but how honest can it be when you know another person is watching you?  

I have had this feeling before, when I first was the shaliach tzibur, leading the tefilla. As the leader I appropriated my concentration to proper enunciation, hitting the exact starting points and choosing good tunes and neglected the greater necessity to put my heart into the words that were exiting your mouth. Further as the leader it has happened (only to me?) that I was more fearful and concerned of the people staring behind me than the greater audience in the heavens which led me to have a near Olympic focus on the performance.  

Someone is always watching you daven - I figure the important lesson is that you need to have tefilla attitude that you must purely connect to your prayers and do your best, regardless of who may actually be paying attention.  

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