One of the things we miss about not having minyanim is the comradery one shares with those who regularly pray or attend class with us.
We are taught that when one prays alone, one must have perfect kavana (intent) for one’s prayers to be carried to by the angels to the throne of glory. Since few can, coming together as a Minyan, allows the group to share their intent, so that each person’s intent is multiplied by 10. In addition, the sages teach that we are not judged individually when we pray together as a minyan, but as a group with the best of us considered to be for all of us.
When we come together as a group, we can imagine that each of us has a kavana or proper thought for one part of the prayer – one perhaps for health, one for sustenance, one for knowledge – so that the prayers of a group are joined together and rise with each other. In a minyan. We are in essence partners. The hazan (prayer leader) provides the first engine, but the others don’t just hook on. Each person there also supplies an engine. A minyan manifests the idea of Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh – that all of Israel are guarantors for one another.
So the person I am praying with or learning with is more than just the guy I see at synagogue, he is, in essence, my partner and connected to me. His joy is my joy and his pain is my pain.
When I was young, there was an additional benefit. At a minyan, you connected to the previous generations. There may have been a difference of 50 years between us, but we were doing the same prayers and we were part of a team. I connected with several very senior Holocaust survivors in the minyan and gained a couple of extra Grandfathers, since mine had already passed away.
When one passes away, one of the best things that is said about a man is that he came to minyan every day. This is the praise of a Torah Jew.
Both survivors were now single, as their wives had passed away and both lived into their 90’s. They gave me wisdom and compassion and showed me what being old meant, if I was privileged to get to their age. They both always had a smile and a story and I looked forward to seeing them each day as much as to the prayers. One only had a couple of fingers on his hand to remind of the torture he had been through, but each day, they came on time and the minyan was the highlight of their day. They both have passed on now, but now how pained they would be without their daily minyan.
Today, I have a new minyan and new friends I used to see each day both younger and older than I since I am no longer young..
We talk and schmooze before we start, but most people are quiet for the prayer and Torah readings. I don’t subscribe to the current out of the box thinking that talking in Shul has caused all the problems in the world. Obviously, we are there for respect for G-d, but G-d loves our company and wants happy customers. To make a shul a place where you don’t want to come, I can’t believe is what G-d wants.
The good news is that the State just relaxed, the rules for outdoor minyans. We can again return to a modified form of the minion, say Kaddish and take the Torah out to be read. The good news is as of Nissan 25 (April 19th), Outdoor minyans were now allowed again. I davened with a Minyan at 6:00 Am on the 19th. This was exactly 20 days (not 21) that we were cancelled from minyans. A coincidence”? Why not 22 days were we stopped? The good news is as of Nissan 25 (April 19th), Outdoor minyans were now allowed again. I davened with a Minyan at 6:00 Am on the 19th. This was exactly 20 days (not 21) that we were cancelled from minyans. A coincidence”? Why not 22 days were we stopped? It takes 21 days to make a new habit as I wrote yesterday, (less for me since I went to outdoor minyans before they were cancelled ) and it is none to soon. Do you think G-d didn’t notice that the 21 day mark was coming up?
Love Yehuda Lave
Speaking of tradition, here is a little funny story
A Hairy Exchange
A young boy had just gotten his driving permit. He asked his father, who was a rabbi, if they could discuss his use of the family car. His father took him into his study and said, “I’ll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your Talmud a little, get your hair cut, and then we’ll talk about it.”
After about a month, the boy came back and again asked his father if they could discuss his use of the car. They again went into the father’s study where the father said, “Son, I’ve been very proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you’ve studied the Talmud diligently, but you didn’t get your hair cut.”
The young man waited a moment and then replied, “But father, in my studies I’ve learned that Samson, who was loved by God and a leader of the Jewish people, also had long hair. Can’t I follow in the footsteps of the great Samson?”
The rabbi replied, “Sure you can follow in Samson’s footsteps, because he walked everywhere he went.