Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Monday, 21 September 2009

Where Does The Time Go?

When I was growing up, the little shul I belong to used to set records for length of services on the High Holidays. Davening was called for 8 am and it would always be the same four or five of us there on time. When services ended at 3 pm (I am not exxagerating) the same four or five of us were there to close up. In between the crowd had swelling to a couple of hundred but as the day passed they generally lost interest and drifted away.
Perhaps it was because the chazan, a genuinely decent talmid chacham with a beautiful voice, really got into the prayers he was chanting. Maybe that's why mussaf always took 3 hours. Or it could have been the rav's excitement at having a full house to speak to which meant a sermon of at least one hour's length.
Fortunately nowadays I daven at the local Jewish seniors' home. The crowd is small, we start late (9:30 am) but we're done by 1 pm and home by 1:30. Yet most piyutim are still said and tunes are still sung. What's the secret?
First, our chazzan is a decent chap who gets very hungry by 11 am. This means that the longer services go, the faster he sings. Secondly, the rav running the services doesn't flatter himself. He knows no one is really listening when he speaks, so he limits his sermon to five minutes or less.
Put that all together and it's quite possible to be home for lunch at a decent hour.
How did yours go?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

FYI the Gaon was makpid to finish davening before Chazos so as not to fast on Rosh Hashana. He wasn't into Kiddush before Shofar.

Midwest

Recreational Musings said...

Wow...services must be a piece of cake for you now after that rough childhood! Services went from 8:30 until 1:30 where I was this year, but I didn't get there until 10:00 both days, so it wasn't all that bad. Although I definitely have a Rabbi that flatters himself with his own voice. The sermons were pretty good overall this year, though. And the services are at a Orthodox community center with a meal following, so I got to eat immediately after!

E-Man said...

I was in at 8 and out at 1230 both days. Not bad at all. I am dreading Yom Kippur though. My seat is in between two people that take up half my seat. Put that together and I will have to stand a lot!

David said...

Too frickin' long, and spiritually void (although that may have been just me). The gentlemen who led the service (complete with whining and tears at appropriate times) started at 8 and didn't finish until after 1. I showed up well after 9 both days, but hung around until the bitter end. There's a place down the street (meets in a school basement) that started at 9 and finished before 1. More and more people have started to go there...

Rye said...

The Shul I go to was at most %75 capacity. Started at 8:00, the speeches were drastically reduced this year. I think we were out of there by 1:00PM both days. I'm not going to comment on the Drashas because this blog is read by more eyes than the author realizes.
I'm guessing the reason for the lower attendance is that most people would not be caught dead going to work on the High Holidays. On the weekend though, it's possible to make an excuse not to go, and your co-workers would be no less the wiser. Sad, but I think there is a truth to it.

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

I think a lot of the reason the crowd is down year after year is because of the lack of commitment of the current generation.
Time was people went to shul because that's what you did on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Even if it mean going with a book and spending a couple of boring hours reading it, you went.
Nowadays people have asked the question: Why bother? And since they have no clue as to the purpose of the holiday or any insight into their relationship with God, the answer is: No reason to bother, so they just don't come.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

"I think a lot of the reason the crowd is down year after year is because of the lack of commitment of the current generation."

Maybe. But it's easy to rail against the defects of "the current generation." However, put aside, for a moment, romantic notions of how great it was to starve, be sick, have no formal education, and endure occasional pogroms in the pious little shtetl of your great grandparents of blessed memory. It might be a better question to ask how Judaism is failing the current generation. If I'm selling a product and people aren't buying it, it's all well and good for me to complain about how people just don't have the exquisite taste that made my product so much more popular 100 years ago; it's a much better idea to work on the product. The fact is, for all the good ideas in Orthodoxy, most people just aren't into fairy tales, and that's what it seems like to most of us. Don't keep telling us its our fault and we need to adapt ourselves to believe something that seems patently false.

Garnel Ironheart said...

I disagree. It has nothing to do with romantacized versions of European life which I don't buy into anyway. I think it all goes back to JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you" speech (which, by the way he plagiarized)

Society today is selfish and getting worse all the time. People are interested in what's in it for them. I see it in my job all the time. Me, me, me, gimme, gimme, now, now, now! People do a job for the pay cheque and their loyalty to their company is based on a lack of a better option elsewhere. People come to shul and want to be entertained instead of opening their souls up and using it as a chance to speak with God. I think that's the root of the problem.

David said...

Mnyeh. People are only attached to a particular set of religious beliefs because of what it does for them. It gets you into heaven. It makes you feel chosen. It gives you a spiritual high. Nobody in his right mind is keeping kosher or putting on tefillin as a selfless act-- whom could it possibly be helping? People are no more nor less selfish than they ever were-- they may have higher expectations of life, but that's merely a function of what has become widely available.

Lvnsm said...

For us, it ended at 2 pm

I came before musaf the first day and before shofar the second day

What I like is that they have reading material on the table in each row. Instead of people talking, they look at the material.

I also like how the rabbi/chazan and his teen son were singing together

shana tovah

Garnel Ironheart said...

There are different groups of mitzvos. Some, like tefillin, don't require selfless thoughts vis a vis other people but rather in one's relationship with God. I'm going to put the time aside to put on tefillin, to pray, etc. And it has nothing to do with seeing them as selfless acts but rather with identifying with the entire corpus of Knesses Yisrael. Our ancestors were putting on tefillin, davening and keeping kosher and our descendents will be too. This is about being a part of the people in more than an abstract "Well I'm a good Jew in my heart" way.
But then there's other mitzvos too. Like giving tzedakah, volunteering one's time, coming out on weekdays to ensure the local small shteibl has a minyan, things like that which make a community work. And I think less and less people are doing that because there's nothing in it for them.

Proud MO said...

I actually davened at 2 different places. One day we started 7:15 and finished 12:15, the next day was 8:00 to 12:30

Dr Mike said...

It's funny to think about it but while I hate long services on Rosh HaShanah, I actually prefer places with long, drawn out davening on Yom Kippur. The shul I grew up in was having a quick day if we got an hour break between musaf and minchah.

Off the Derech said...

Hold on. Is this about Knesses Yisrael? Or God? Or just fat old Garnel?

Gateway Itchie said...

7:45 - 2:00 both days. Extremely enjoyable with wonderful ba'alei tefila. I wouldn't trade the experience with anyone's. By the way, maybe the Gaon of Vilna started early in the morning so it still could have been a six or seven hour service and done by chatzos.

David said...

OTD--

What makes you think Garnel is fat? Do you think about Garnel's body a lot? Why do you think that is? More importantly, why are you attracted to fat people? It could be that your parents were fat, and you developed a notion that the ideal sexual partner would be a bit zaftig, especially if you and your parents spent a lot of time naked together in your formative years, or if there was some abuse involved. Is that it? But if you've never seen Garnel, then you're just projecting some aspects of your ideal sexual partner onto him. Which is odd, also, since you're both guys. Personally, not my cup of tea, but, if gay's your way, that's OK. Keep up the insightful posts!

Off the Derech said...

David: Quit projecting.

Sheesh. You're almost as bad as the man himself.

David said...

OTD,

He's really not all that bad; just a bit misguided on some issues. As to "quit projecting," is that a sophisticated way of saying "I am rubber-- you are glue; it bounces off me and sticks to you!"??

Off the Derech said...

He is all that bad. And a lot worse too.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Okay, quit it boys or you both have to go to your rooms.