Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Help wanted with a mitzvah time-management problem

This is the fifth Sukkot during which I've worked for this organization (the first four as a temp.). And this is the first year that I never went up to their rooftop sukkah even once.

It all started a few months ago, when I decided to try to pray Shacharit (the Morning Service) and Mincha (the Afternoon Service) every day.

It didn't work.

For pretty much the same reason that I never ate in the office sukkah last week:

I need "time off for good behavior."

It sounds terrible, I know, but that's how I feel.

I simply couldn't discipline myself to pray every day. At first, I just skipped Shacharit on Sundays, on the grounds that I needed one day when I could sleep late. But then I found myself conveniently forgetting Mincha, as well.

And then, the war in Israel intervened, inspiring one of the women in the office to start a women's Tehillim group Monday through Thursday.

I was, and am, a founding and enthusiastic participant (though I end up following in the English more than half of the time.)

But . . .

I was already davvening (praying) Mincha Monday-Thursday at the office. Now, with Tehillim group, I'm sacrificing almost half of my lunch hour for the purpose of davvening.

I barely have time to go for a walk (weather permitting), and, if I meet a friend for lunch, I have to sneak out of the office for 10 minutes later in the afternoon and do Mincha at break-neck speed.

To be absolutely honest, I simply wasn't willing to sacrifice what were probably among the very few days remaining in which the weather would allow me to eat lunch in the park in order to spend what was left of my lunch hour staring at the walls of a hut on the roof.

I get up an hour earlier to davven Shacharit. I no longer have time to write checks, clean the bathroom, and/or make dinner in the morning before going to work.

This is exactly what a certain formerly-Orthodox blogger was talking about some time back when s/he said that it was amazing how much more free time s/he had now that s/he was "frei" (no longer Orthodox).

Here's a serious question for my still-Orthodox readers: How you manage to be observant and still have a life?


Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

who says i have a life? :-P

i work at a jewish school that has davening in the morning, so although i prefer to pray before work, if i don't wake up in time i can always count on having minyan at school. and when it comes to having a life, when i have someplace to go at night/afternoon i frequently daven on the train.

Wed Oct 18, 09:51:00 PM 2006  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Sleep Less.

Wed Oct 18, 09:58:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Tell me about it--that's the only part that I've already figured out.

Thu Oct 19, 12:26:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Steg, since I probably have a slight case of ADD, I get distracted easily enough when I'm praying in shul instead of alone at home. Can you see me trying to davven on the subway? "Ashrei yoshvei" . . . "Next stop 42nd Street-Times Square. Stand clear of the closing doors. ("Ding, dong" warning sound. Doors close. Doors open. Ding Dong. Doors close.) . . . "v'techa."

Thu Oct 19, 12:36:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Shira: If we take 1/10th of our earnings and donate them to "maaser" -- to charity, then I guess we also donate about 1/10th of the day to G-d. Is 2.4 hours that much? Hmm - maybe it should only be 1/10th of our waking hours, assuming 8 hours of sleep -- which would only be 1.6 hours. In fact, if I add up davening 3 times a day, plus learning (if I'm not overly busy), plus benching and other things...that adds up.

Davening is just something that takes alot of practice geting into the routine of it...and even for Orthodox people, it doesn't always come easy.

Thu Oct 19, 03:21:00 AM 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

You are right - it is easier to be Orthodox if you can function on less sleep. Then again, I think it is easier in Israel. My husband has always found a regular Mincha minyan at work, wherever that has been, and I don't think it is considered part of his lunch hour. If you consider the amount of time some people wasted reading the newspaper/blogs online at work, taking a few minutes to pray is really not bad.

Thu Oct 19, 07:12:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Part of it is simply being used to it. We're used to having to sleep less, having to take out hours of our day to do certain things, etc. We grew up that way, so we don't know better. (As an FFB, I should say.)

Thu Oct 19, 10:46:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Noam S said...

I'm a little different that the other FFB'ers(religious their whole life) because even though I recieved the education, I didn't have the imperative to keep all the details of the mitzvot(like davening three times a day) until well into adulthood. However, the answer is the same. Get up a little earlier. However, when I have to already get up early for work, my davening time can go down to 10 minutes(put on t'fillin, brachot, baruch sh'amar, yishtabach to end of amida, tefillin off during ashrei/yom/aleinu). Sometimes you cant have total time and total kavanna, no matter how hard you try. As far as the sukkah, you are patur :-). I dont think Hashem is expecting superhuman effort. But He does expect an effort

Thu Oct 19, 01:32:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Elie said...

A life - I remember when I had one of those. Back in college, I think.

Now the real tough question is where do I get time to blog???

Thu Oct 19, 05:55:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Jameel, the notion that we're donating some of our time to Hashem is a nice one.

WestBankMama, I imagine that a lot of things Jewish are easier in Israel. I'm just not ready to move, nor do I know whether I ever will be.

Ezzie, I imagine that it would be easier to observe (the) mitzvot (I'm not up to observing *all* of them, by any means) if I'd been doing it all my life and it were second nature.

Dilbert, sounds like what I did this morning, when I forgot to turn on my alarm and woke up 2 1/2 hours later than planned. Tallit, tefillin, Ashrei through Gadol Hashem (3-verse minimum, I've been told), then skip to Poteach (heart of Ashrei, I've been told), then to Tefillat Hashem y'daber pi, then straight to Yotzer Or thru end of Amidah, then Aleinu through lifnei Melech Malchei haM'lachim, haKadosh Baruch Hu, and I was outta there. That was my honest attempt to hit all the absolute requirements, with a smidge before and after.

Now, now, you *know* what I have to say about being patur (I assume that's the Hebrew for "exempt"). I think exemption makes sense *only* for women with young children. I started laying tefillin on a regular basis when our son became a Bar Mitzvah because I didn't feel that I had any excuse not to do so, at that point.

"Sometimes you cant have total time and total kavanna, no matter how hard you try. . . .I dont think Hashem is expecting superhuman effort. But He does expect an effort." That's a nice way of looking at davvening.

Elie, I'm having the opposite problem, at the moment--I'm blogging as a substitute for having a life. Some of my best friends are so tied up with work and other obligations that we don't see one another for months at a time. I spend more time blabbing with my blogger buddies than with my real-life ones. Oy.

Thu Oct 19, 08:00:00 PM 2006  

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