Sunday, June 26, 2005

On Rememmmmmmmmbering

I have always wondered why it is that otherwise perfectly rational and sane people sometimes feel the need to overdo the most minor things.

This past week's parsha contains the last paragraph of Sh'ma. In it is the verse "lma'an tizk'ru..." (So that you should remember - Numbers 15:40. The commentaries (rightly) point out that when saying the Sh'ma, one should not rush through it, lest one replace the zayin sound (z) with a s sound, and change the meaning.

However, there are some days that when you listen to Sh'ma being said in shul, you'd think that there was a swarm of bees in the room. Not content with simply making sure to enunciate the z sound, they completely go overboard, and loudly proclaim lma'an tizzzzzzkru. (And did you ever notice that those two words are said louder than any other words in the paragraph -- it's as if they're trying to prove to everyone else that they said it correctly!) It's really not necessary. I've been laining for seventeen years every week. Every year, when we come to Parshas Sh'lach (last week's Parsha), I always lain it "tizk'ru" without over-enunciating it, and never once has the Rav of the shul come over to me afterwards and said "Wolf, you should enunciate the zayin better."

I'm all for observing halacha, and I can even understand wanting to take on additional chumros if you so feel like it (although some of them seem silly to me - but that's another post, I suppose). But this imitation of bees during davening is just a bit too much.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

Wolf-You are best when you pick up so well on this stuff.
You are so correct.

Ben Avuyah said...

I don’t like saying the shema anymore because I don’t like to threaten myself three times a day with destruction if I don’t follow god’s commandments. Every time I read it, god just comes off sounding like a bully. “And it will be if you follow my commandments etc.” and then, “Heshomru lochem”…watch
out, I can really mess you up if I want to.

What a jerk.

I just say water melon water melon many times over quickly, it is indistinguishable from the prototypical yeshivisha mumble that passes for prayer.

Then I pause in a moment of ecstatic kavanah and, "tizzzzzkiru" for full thirty seconds and then, just when it seems anyone with normal lung capacity would be about to fade into semiconscious oblivion, I hold it for a few more seconds with my eyes squeezed shut, as if I can bring the moshiach with pure unadulterated will power, and the force of my zzzzz.

Then I go to the shul library and read a book.

Perhaps everyone in your shul is as frum as I am…

Reuven Chaim Klein said...

You people are sick.

M-n said...

The guy who used to sit next to me in elementary school for davening used to sing "rubber duck ducky" under his breath during tachanun.

Reuven Chaim Klein said...

BrooklynWolf said...


The story of someone hitting 112 years is certainly encouraging, but what does it have to do with the topic at hand?


I intend to be at one of his lectures.

Ben Avuyah,

Firstly, Sh'ma is recited only twice per day, not thrice.

Secondly, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that there are consequences for actions. Would you avoid reading a law because it says "someone who murders may be charged with murder and subject to life in prison or death...?"

And thank you, daat, for the kind comments.

Oh, and Rachack, if you please, kindly lay off the ad hominem attacks. If you want to question Ben Avuyah or the others for thier actions, please feel free to do so, but calling them (or myself) sick for disagreeing is simply wrong.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Here's another question- how can one person every properly assess another person's kavanah?

That's allegedly the reason people were not allowed into my former school this year- they "lacked" kavanah.


Rachak- why sick? That's an odd comment to make.

Ben Avuyah said...

Shachris,maariv,and keriyas shema al hamita. After all that yeshiva don’t say it isn’t so.

Secondly there is a difference between a law and a threat. And even if American law had the punishment for, “following your eyes and heart” to be lack of water, crops and starvation I would certainly cite it as cruel and unusual, wouldn’t you ?

Ben Avuyah said...

daat y,

god comes off better to you when he threatens entire populations with stravation, rather than just individuals ?

This puts your mind at ease ?

A penny for your thoughts....

Anonymous said...

It used to be just tizkiru, but now people feel the need to outdo each other more, so they will over emphasize all the zayins, including uzchartem and zonim. Anyone else notice that?

Ben Avuyah said...

Hi anonymous,

Yeah, now that you mention it, I was beginning to think it was some type of predominantly Jewish genetic defect, like a Tay-Sachs of the soft palate or something.

But It appears you are right, it is just religiosity gone amuck.

The next time I make it to Shul in time to daven more than adon olam, I am going to lock eyes with the rabbi and out “zzzz” him in every respect. No matter how hard he zzzzs I will zzzz back twice as hard.

Drawing from reserves of strength I never knew I had, I will fight till my throat is raw and my lips bitter and chapped. Like a nerve wracking game of chicken, neither of us will be willing to swerve first. Blue in the face and starving for air we will zzzz with all our conviction and might, staring at each other icily over shtender and chair, eyes daring the other to quit.

It will be winner take all and to the lesser man the shame of defeat.

I will best him in this contest due to my emunah peshutah, and a gapping whole in between my front teeth through which I can spit as well as zzzz.

And then, and only then, treasuring my pious victory, will I go to the back of the shul and talk real estate.

Ayelet said...

Wolf, about the words being said louder, the people who are not hyper might do that because it is impossible to whisper the /z/ sound. It is a voiced sound and, if produced in a whisper, necessarily becomes its voiceless twin, /s/. Btw-nice to meet you. Enjoyed your blog for the first time today!

BrooklynWolf said...

Thank you for the kind words Ayelet.

I certainly understand that it's hard to whisper the /z/ sound. That's why one must be careful. I don't mind if someone emphasizes it a bit, if that's what's necessary for them. But I hear people that sound like flocks of bees. *That's* the crux of my complaint.

The Wolf

BBJ said...


It sounds as though your former school has problems. But I have to say, as a public school teacher, I would LOVE to not let some of my students back in the fall because they lack kavvanah. Wow. What an idea!

PsychoToddler said...

I had a similar problem with the "frummer than thous" who try to stretch out the silent shmoneh esrei to ten minutes. I can't get anywhere near that. The Shatz takes half as long to say the same thing out loud. I wonder "what is going on in there"? How can it take that long to say those words? Is it all for show? It seems people are trying to see who will finish last.

BrooklynWolf said...

I suppose it depends, PT.

I've had days where I felt more "devout" than others and took longer to daven Shmoneh Esrei. But usually no longer than it takes the Shliach Tzibur to get to Kedushah.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

Anyone else notice that?

No, I'm too busy saying Shema. ;-)