Thursday, July 5, 2012

Minyan and Anxiety Disorders

Since my time as a teacher and informal education for a program that required students to attend minyan, I have been collecting classic excuses that would exempt someone from participation. The most popular excuse is "I have to go to the bathroom" as it not only gets one away from of the judging eyes of the teachers but has a strong legitimate precedent to disqualify one's tefilla.  

Today I came across the following anonymous question and answer on AskRevach. The "about us" section self describes this Orthodox Jewish resource as "created for Bnei Torah who have a question in any area.  Whether it's halacha or hashkafa pertaining to your work or anything else on your mind you can ask one of qualified staff for answers."  Not so many other details are shared on their actual hashkafa, outlook. 

In trolling for tefilla material I came across this question which may take the prize:
If a person has been diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder, is he excused from davening with a minyan?
Answer: An emotional illness is also considered to be a condition that would exempt one from davening with a minyan, if attending shul would be likely to aggravate his condition. However if davening with a minyan is not likely to have any negative effect, he certainly should daven in shul. If he would be able to handle a small minyan of 10 men but not a large shul with many dozen, then his condition would outweigh b'rov am hadras Melech. Answered by Rav Peretz Moncharsh

Admittedly I normally wouldn't think much of such an issue but I had just come across the following headline America's Anxiety Epidemic on TheAtlantic online. The actual articleTrickle-Down Distress: How America's Broken Meritocracy Drives Our National Anxiety Epidemic by Maura Kelly, caused me to think about how our students deal with pressures and the outlets we create for them to juggle the societal and religious challenges.  Tefilla is a natural outlet if properly taught, but apparently some people may use it as an exemption as well.  Let me clear as to only inspire and not to offend:  Anxiety disorders are real!  Many people who do not suffer such an illness struggle to use the time gathered in a quorum of worshipers to its full spiritual potential.  How can we make the most of this experience?

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