Halachos and Thoughts of Davening during Quarantine
I remember (and still have) a pamphlet of The Laws of Shabbat During War from during the Gulf War in Israel in 1991, which Rav Neuwirth of the Shemiras Shabbat KHilchata published. I do not in any way compare, but this is a small attempt to find some Chizuk in Tefilah in these days of isolation.
I would like to bring an idea from the Sfas Emes. He is discussing Korbanos and our connection to them after the Churban. B”H this is not a Churban, but it is still a temporary suspension of our Mikdash Ma’at. He writes the following.
The Gemara says that HaShem joins the desire of a Jew to perform a Mitzvah as if he did a Mitzvah. The Chidush is that on some level the desire is even greater. Every action that a person does cannot be perfect. But a thought can be. That is an understanding that HaShem’s thought was to create the world in Din. In thought the world is meant to be perfect. But in action, as human beings, we cannot do that. But in the realm of thought, it can be.
After the Churban, the Bais HaMikdash exists in our desire and thoughts. In that sense the Bais HaMikdsoh is perfect. For example, when you brought an actual Korban, maybe something wasn’t perfect and it was Pasul. Just we didn’t know. But in thought, I want to bring a perfect Korban. HaShem joins that thought to action, and that action is perfect.
Now we have a chance for a perfect Davening. The desire to go to shul is so great and overwhelming, HaShem will join it to action. That is our Davening at this time.
Below are some suggestions and ideas to make our temporary homebound Mikdash better.
These are all only suggestions to enhance our Davening in these unusual times. But the most important thing is to be calm and happy about Davening, and everything else especially the family interactions.
As the Gemarra says and is Paskened, one who does a large amount since they can or one who does a smaller amount because that is what can, but if their heart is to HaShem it is equally acceptable.
None of this is to pressure anyone. It is all to try to enhance our Tefila. But most important is what the ARIZ”L writes as brought by the Mishnah Berurah and found in many Siddurim, to accept upon yourself the Mitzvah of ואהבת לרעך כמוך. I would like to add especially within one’s home.
- Before Davening, and especially at night to prepare for Shacharis.
- Choose a place. Designate somewhere to daven that is respectful. The Gemarra says that whoever chooses a place to Daven, The HaShem of Avrohom will help him. We need all the help we can get. And Avrohom was not davening with a Minyan. Already before the time of davening choose this. Check with others that the place is OK, so they will respect it and maybe join you.
- Choose a time. You do not have to do this, and if you are tired or not feeling well, you might need more sleep. But, having chosen a time gives it more importance. It also starts your day with a Seder and a purpose.
- Choose a Siddur. My grandmother A”H told me that her father, a Talmid of Volozihn, would have her switch Siddurim so she would have to concentrate more on the words because the layout was unfamiliar. Again, this is an idea. If your Siddur is how you have Kavanah, go for it.
- When you daven
- Get dressed appropriately. Even if you do not always do this at home, now do it. Again there is so much distraction, give your Tefila more importance.
- Daven without pressure. There is nowhere to go anyway. Of course, if you have family responsibilities, or are working from home this is different. But if not, then no pressure. But what does that mean?
- There is no one to talk to. Imagine, a Davening without talking in your ‘shul’!
- At your pace. Rabbi Immanuel Feldman wrote a great essay, “The Shul Without a Clock”. This shul has no clock. So daven at your pace. It can be slow. It can also be with alacrity. Some Chasidus prefer Davening quickly so their mind doesn’t wander. Whatever works for you. But it’s your pace, not decided by someone else
- You can say as much as you want. You don’t have to skip. Don’t feel pressured to say everything, but you can explore a new part of Davening. Korbanos, the parts after, whatever.
- You can figure out what words mean. Stop and look up the translation. Again, this is in a measure, and if it does not throw you concentration and Kavanah off. But at least a few.
- Fathers and Mothers – Only if this works
- Since often the father is at shul, the mother is obligated to Daven in a way that she can fulfill her responsibility of the children. Again, if this works. The father and mother can stagger their Davening to allow each to daven a bit slower.
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