January 13th, 2014

(relatively) recent

I fought the LORD and the LORD won (yes, that's what I used to think the lyrics were)

This mourning lark takes balls (in the figurative sense: it would take even more for a woman insistent upon reciting kaddish in a strange Orthodox synagogue): Today I:
  • Recited kaddish at the wrong place at the end of Shacharis, effectively letting everyone in that shul know I don't regularly daven Shacharis (in a shul—I do בְּיָחִיד)—the same mistake I made in Newcastle on Sunday when I led the service in Newcastle and launched into the extended Taḥanun reserved for Mondays and Thursdays. The rabbi (today) had just given a Mishna shiur at the end of the service; I forgot that there is a short piece he recites in Hebrew afterwards before mourners would recite Kaddish deRabbānān.
  • Walked into a lunchtime mincha minyan I had never attended before, and led their service (by invitation, when I had called them up to let them know I would be coming).
  • Walked into a shtiebl for ma`ariv where I was the only non-Chareidi, and was the only person in the room reciting kaddish. (Though that wasn't very surprising as most of the minyan weren't old enough to grow beards yet; presumably the adults in the area go to the later evening minyan held in the same venue. It was like being back in the school in Gateshead my ḥeder teacher would take me for ma`ariv to twenty-four years ago all over again.)
After eight days attending services three times a day, I begin to see why speed-mumbling is so prevalent in Orthodox (and absent in non-Orthodox) services: When you only attend services once a week, on Shabbos, the wording of the liturgy is special, and you want to take your time over it so you can appreciate what you're saying. When you're attending services three times a day, every day, though, services eat up your time,* and you just want to get through them as fast as possible so you still have a bit of time left to yourself. Although that scenario does not really describe Shabbos, on which you do not have to go to work, relieving the pressure on your time, I can see how force of habit, or even just prayer-weariness, could carry over to it from the weekdays.

* Before last week, I would spend ten minutes davening in the morning, maybe five in the evening when I remembered and it was already dark, and three or so very occasionally in the afternoon; and all whilst I was doing something else (en route to work, or doing the washing up)—yes, I know you're not supposed to. Today Shacharis ate fifty-five minutes of my time (though it'll be less when it's not Monday or Thursday), mincha forty-five minutes including travel (though that'll be at least five minutes less now I know where it is and don't turn up to 257 City Road rather than 357), and ma`ariv twenty minutes—that's two hours of my free time gone every day (except that at the weekends I can save myself the travel time for mincha).

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