June 24th, 2014

(relatively) recent

Has reciting mourner's kaddish daily had an effect on me?

I'm over halfway through my period of reciting kaddish now, and have still only missed thirteen services in total, so far. So, you may be wondering, has all this davening with a minyan three times a day changed me?

That's what I wondered when I went to study for three weeks at the Conservative Yeshiva (and davening there twice a day) seven years ago. One hears of all these young people going off to Israel to study in yeshiva and coming back "Aished"; was I in danger of that happening to me too?

As it turned out, the answer was no. When I was young, I was much more credulous and uncritically respecting of authority than I am now. And so perhaps I would have been in danger of being brainwashed had I gone to an Orthodox yeshiva when I was eighteen, but that was not the case going to a Masorti/Conservative yeshiva in my mid thirties. Eventually I realised it wasn't that I might change due to studying at the yeshiva; rather I went to study at the yeshiva because I had already changed myself. (The idea of studying at a yeshiva would have been quite inimical to me just a few years beforehand.)

And so, davening with a minyan three times a day hasn't changed me at all. I didn't change before I started doing it, and I haven't changed since (aside from a mild exasperation at the length of services); and when my period of reciting kaddish ends, I will happily go back to pretty much never attending shul midweek, but doing a little davening daily בְּיִחוּד, as I had been doing beforehand, and indeed still do now on the odd occasion when I'm not able to daven at shul in the morning (mostly when I've got a 'plane to catch back from Berlin on a Monday morning).

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