Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Talking, Davening, and ADD

I came across this anecdote on the web without a proper source:

The Minsker Rabbi was very angry with his congregation because they always chattered while prayers were being said. One Shabbat after services, he noticed a small group of people standing and talking. 
“This is something I can’t understand, my good people,” the Rabbi said. “During the services you must talk, but why must you talk after services?”
In a way, talking and davening are the same skill of the tongue but are seemingly mutually exclusive in their practice - how can we teach students to focus their brains and mouths for the correct purposes? 

One great solution can be found in the Mishna in Brachot (5:1) which states the following: 
  • A person must be in the proper frame of mind for davening. Therefore, one should not daven immediately after playing around or after an argument, but should wait a few moments to calm down.
I would argue that this is a great first step to make the 'switch' into a more meditative and reflective use of speech and one that I observe is often under practiced. Pause - wait to see if you can refocus on the purpose of your tefilla.  Otherwise, we are just producing a cohort of daveners with an attention deficit disorder to their own spiritual needs.  

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