Sunday, October 23, 2011

A view from the opposite perspective

I have long lamented my inability to keep up with the pace of prayer in synagogue. (See, for example, Near tears at morning minyan.)

So it was an interesting experience to find myself on the other side of the equation.

A new person has recently begun joining us for Minchah (Afternoon Service) and Maariv/Arvit (Evening Service) on Shabbat (Sabbath) and Yom Tov (holidays). Much to my surprise, the newcomer actually takes several minutes longer than I do to complete the Amidah prayer. I'm happy to say that we slow-pokes among the long-time "regulars" have trained our congregation well--the baal tefillah (prayer leader) always waits until the newbie finishes the Amidah. This is actually not a problem for non-High Holiday Minchah/Maariv Services, since we rarely get a minyan and aren't delaying more than a few people, though it would be a problem on the High Holidays.

What's equally interesting is that I now find myself facing a both-ends-against-the-middle situation. At one end are the speed-davvening yeshiva graduates, who are very accustomed to praying not only at top speed, but also loudly enough to distract Ms. ADD. At the other end is the newcomer, who, while clearly trying to whisper, doesn't seem capable of praying quietly enough not to be audible from one end of the sanctuary to the other. (My best guess is that the newcomer has a partial hearing loss.) I've lost track of how many times I've lost my place in the siddur (prayer book) over the past few evenings. I suppose it's good practice in forcing me to focus.


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