Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Watching you Daven

I have been travelling for the past two weeks which has led to a decline in posts/tweets and increase in variety of davening experiences.

One thing that struck me along my travels was how affected I was by my self-awareness that people were staring at me while I was davening.  I am hesitant to lead tefillot partially because of this discomfort, and partially because I have a terrible voice (I inherited that!).  Knowing that someone is watching you I think highlights the performance aspect of the ritual to the detriment of the spiritual pursuit, and thus I think it is an under-taught skill is how to focus to the extent that you lose an awareness of your environment and audience. Sometimes the spotlight forces you to do it right, to have proper kavanah; I presume different people react differently.  In many schools, educators are often watching kids daven instead of davening themselves which leads to a more fundamental questions, do kids like being observed as they pray?  

A further refection that I had while away was regarding the "Siddur Party" - a seminal event in all Jewish educational institutions hold to mark a coming of age moment in which a child gets their very own prayer book.  I still have mine!  I was there when my son got his in first grade (the head rabbi of the school and a internationally well known scholar encouraged the parents to be personal examples and take out their siddurim). What happens between the siddur party and the departure from school system?  The central goal of this blog is to pursue a greater awareness of how to the evaluate the teaching of tefilla.  The educational message that is delivered with the siddur - it is a guidebook to the Jewish library, it opens one up to spiritual pursuit of Torah learning, it posses the fundamental search of human beings and their relationship to God - but what is sticking with students as they get older?

1 comment:

  1. I used to worry about singing poorly and not being able to carry a tune while davening, until a very wise friend (and excellent singer) assured me that HaShem has autotune. Now I just sing and assume that I am singing in HaShem's key, though not necessarily the key of the key of the people around me.