Friday, August 17, 2012

Missed kaddish due to impatience

I'm back from Israel, but I'm not finished reflecting on my time there. As usual, the first few days back leave me with a feeling of dislocation, as if I am nowhere, neither here nor there. My feelings for the people and country as well as my experiences there linger in my consciousness. My prayers, indeed all my actions, are not quite "with it" yet.

I only missed one kaddish in the nearly two weeks I was in Israel. There are lots of shuls, especially in Jerusalem, so finding one nearby wasn't difficult. Even when I went out to eat, I found one a few minutes away to pray Mincha and Ma'ariv. My last day I went to a wedding (more about that in a future post) where I wasn't going to be able to daven Mincha. So I davened before hand at a well-known Jerusalem institution known as "Shitblach." This unpreposesing building in the Katamon section of Jerusalem offers minyanim (prayer services) on a virtual around the clock basis. It's really a minyan factory. As you enter, a guy directs you into one of several rooms. When a minyan (quorum of 10 men) has been reached, you're ready to go.  At one point, an argument ensued about who should go to which room, apparently because someone in the other room felt slighted that people had been directed to the room where I was. Shiblach is not the place to pray your heart out, but if you need to say kaddish and fulfill your obligation to pray three times a day, it can't be beat.

The service I missed was due to the custom in Israel, which I found quite annoying, of waiting about 20 minutes between the end on Mincha (the afternoon service) and the beginning of Ma'ariv (the evening service). It was explained to me that Ma'ariv could not be prayed earlier. (I'm not sure if this had to do with the time for praying Ma'ariv or for reciting the Shma.) But why, then, do shuls in the U.S. routinely daven Ma'ariv right after Mincha? Something doesn't add up here. In my cynical moments, I thought that the time gap between Mincha and Ma'ariv was to give the rabbi, who works for and is paid by the government, not by the particular synogogue, a chance to do something to prove his worth.

In some shuls, no rabbi was even present to speak so people just congregated outside the shul, checking their email, making phone calls, shmoozing or just sitting there waiting for the evening service to begin. I'd been invited to eat at my aunt and uncle's home, and didn't want to make them wait any longer, so I just skipped Ma'ariv and walked over there. I did not have the patience to keep them or myself waiting. Plus I was hungry. These were plenty good enough reasons for me to miss kaddish.

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