Saturday, May 22, 2004

Going to the Bathroom in Shul

I have never found prayer painful. In fact, often, it feels good. I don't know about other people. When I look around and see others davening, they look like they have just had some really hefty chulent and are using payer time to work it out of their system.

Is it really necessary for people to squeeze their face and clench their bodies when they pray? A rabbi that was new to the staff of the yeshiva I went to in Israel commented something to me after a few days of davening with the yeshiva: “Why do all of the boys look so upset? How come they all look like they are constipated?” I’ve also had the privilege to pray in the presence of R` Chaim Kanievsky, the son of The Steipler and a gadol in our time. I watched him carefully to see how he davened. I wanted to see his kavnah. Remarkably, he didn’t do any fancy dance, he didn’t contort his face in to discomfort, and he didn’t bang his fist onto his siddur. He just davened, finished, and was on his merry way.

During the day, one can find him/herself praying silently to Hashem. I do it all the time. I will be driving home, and I will think about my life. Then in my head I will thank Hashem for putting me in the place I am now and for what has been given to me. I realize how lucky I can be compared to the many other people in the world. I thank Him in my head and continue driving. This is prayer. When you do it, and I know you do, you are praying genuinely. You are talking to Gd and expressing your feelings of thanks. In this sincere fashion, you never find someone hunched over, straining their necks, and puckering their faces.

I use the bathroom marked MEN in shul not MAIN shul.