Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Long Must We Sing this Song?

I am endlessly fascinated about how people complain and/or brag about when their Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services ended. On the one hand, I sense a competition to see who got home earlier or had a longer break before coming back on Yom Kippur. Others share a sense of pride about how long they sat through the davening - either reflecting their ability to concentrate or high tolerance for pain.

I generally think that as an educator, it is important to teach that for tefilla, less is often more. The more that can be cut out of a service the easier some young people are going to have to focus on that specific experience. It is an incredibly good sign when people ask to daven longer or add more prayers to the dedicated time. Has this ever happened to you that you students have asked for more tefilla?

For morning services, I have cut out a lot of stuff for my students, which helped teach them the 'essential' prayers from ones that were added to prepare or set the mood. One byproduct of such an approach is that it helps students who may be in a rush but want to have a quick prayer experience without compromising tradition or their goal. Another benefit is that helps educate students how the entire tefilla was constructed and what meta-purpose it strives to do for the individual and community.

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