Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wolf, Howl @ Thyself First...

As I was davening Ma'ariv in shul last night, I had a most hypocritical moment. The Chazzan had just finished the Kaddish after Shmoneh Esrei and had started Aleinu. As we all started saying Aleinu, I noticed that the Chazzan was not paying attention to the prayer he was saying - he picked up one of these sheets of paper with divrei Torah on them that seem to litter many shuls in Brooklyn and was reading one of the divrei Torah while his mouth was reciting the words to Aleinu. I mentally* screamed at him to pay attention to the prayer that he was saying and not to read papers.

And then, of course, it hit me. While I was busy mentally screaming at him for his "sin," I was engaging in exactly the same behavior -- reciting Aleinu and not paying attention. Instead of concentrating on the words that I was saying, I was concentrating on the Chazzan's actions!

Sigh. The struggle to self-improve never ends.

The Wolf

* I would probably never have even mentioned to him in private, let alone publicly castigate him for it. I'm not much of a hocheiach tochiach kind of person.

9 comments:

E-Man said...

I think this is what everyone does. Everyone sees the faults that other people have, but ignore those same faults in themselves. It is impressive that you caught yourself.

micha said...

The struggle to self-improve does end. May you be 120 when it does, though.

The Alter of Kelm (quoted by R' Dov Katz in Tenu'as haMussar) said self-improvement is the work of a lifetime; but exactly what you were given that lifetime for. His phrasing wasn't one I found memorable, so let me close with a quote from Richard Bach, "Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't.

-micha

Ahavah Gayle said...

Maybe this isn't a common problem for men, but when the boys were little it was a frequent problem for me, because I had to keep part of my attention on what they were doing. I imagine most moms have the same problem. Kids just won't take naps when you need them to. But they will behave if they perceive you are watching, but if most kids think you are totally not paying attention at all, they will do something stupid (at least that is the case with boys. Maybe girls are different.).

ClooJew said...

Whenever I see someone whose jacket collar is up, I first check my jacket collar. Then, lulei demistafina, I walk over and smooth out his.

Lion of Zion said...

your indignation is not misplaced, regardless of your own practices.

the shali'ah tzibbur has an tremendous responsibility, i.e., to daven on behalf of the kahal. we rush to serve as shali'ah tzibbur for various personal reasons (e.g., a hiyyuv), forgetting that there is nothing personal about being shali'ah tzibbur

shabbat shalom

Pesky Settler said...

I was going to say something similar to LOZ.. as the Ba'al Tefillah, isn't his Achrayut 'more' than yours to pay attention to his davening since technically he is davening FOR you? (At least that was my understanding of the role of the Chazzan).

Anonymous said...

Actually I don't understand why we even need to say Aleinu at maariv. Seems a bit redundant.

Ichabod Chrain

Anonymous said...

Why are those 'parsha' sheets 'littering' so many Shuls?

Actually, some places ban or restrict them for various reasons, one being the problem that they distract people's attention away from davening in Shul.

micha said...

The parashah sheets are there because it appears that eliminating the wandering mind is an unreachable goal, and we're settling for guiding it to wander in holier directions more appropriate for a shul.

-micha