Morning Rituals: Connecting Across Time Zones

With a daughter in Israel, catching up on the day can be challenging. You see, when she’s well into the main part of her day, I’m just starting mine. Often, there will be pre-Shacharit text messages (they actually come in throughout the night) and voice notes about things that occurred to her during the morning and early afternoon. I try to respond when I see them, and then let her know my schedule. Usually, my last text of the morning is something like, “OK, I’m going into shul now, I’ll talk to you later IYH. I love you!” She’ll say, “I love you too,” or something similar. Recently, though, she responded a bit differently and it shook me up. I said, “OK, I’m going into shul now,” and she responded, “Enjoy.” Wait… what? Enjoy? I’m going to daven. To fulfill my obligations to Hashem by wearing Tefillin and saying tefillot (prayers). Is that something to enjoy? Of course, the right answer is, “Absolutely!” Davening isn’t an obligation. I mean, technically it is, but more so, it’s an opportunity.

Finding Joy in Prayer

You have an obligation to drink wine and eat delicious foods on Shabbos but do we ever look at it like that? Don’t we look forward to the Shabbos meals; to the piping hot chicken soup and savory cholent? To the challah and dips and delicacies we’ve prepared for Shabbos? Certainly we do. The meals are about enjoying ourselves AND it’s a mitzvah, too. Davening should be the same way. It’s a chance to talk to Hashem and tell Him what I’m going through. It’s an opportunity to ask Him for whatever I need, and to simply unload and know that He’s listening. That’s a fabulous gift and we SHOULD enjoy it.

The Siddur: A Gift of Words

We don’t even have to come up with the right words because the Anshei K’nesses HaGedola have done the heavy lifting for us and created a siddur with all the right things to say. The words of Tefilla have all sorts of mystical depth, while having meaning to us as well.

Davening as an Elevator Ride with the CEO

When you go to daven, it’s like riding up in the elevator with the CEO of not just your company, but of the whole world. That’s a little hard to imagine, so let’s just say it’s the CEO of your company. That means he’s your boss’s boss, and maybe even your boss’s boss’s boss. That’s pretty up there. Now it’s just you and him, riding to the top, and he’s open to hearing from you. In fact, he got in the elevator because you were there! He is interested in you and your well-being, and he can override the decisions of your boss. If you’ve been asking for a raise and not getting it, now’s the time to ask. You still may not get it, but at least you’ll know it’s for a good reason and your own benefit.

The Importance of Experience in Davening

It’s a chance to let the CEO know how devoted you are to the organization by asking for things for coworkers. “I know Daniel could really use a new computer,” or, “I know Daniel is struggling because of problems at home,” are ways of showing concern for others in your company, i.e. your fellow Jews. Since, as we said, the whole world is Hashem’s business, when you daven for others, you’re davening for Hashem’s success too. You want people to praise Him and appreciate Him, and you’re not just thinking of yourself. When you daven, whether at shul, at home, on the train, or anywhere else, you should be relishing the experience. It’s like that Shabbos meal which is chock-full of special items for the day. Tefila should be something you can really sink your teeth into and enjoy. Try to be there early enough that you can fully digest it, and not simply grab something on the go. As my daughter said, “Enjoy it.”

Davening as our Real Morning Fix

I’m not a fan of people bringing coffee into shul, as I’ve said before. I haven’t found an explicit prohibition, though the great rabbis and scholars I’ve spoken to about it agree it’s not an appropriate behavior. But people do it. For now, we won’t focus on the brachot issues or interruption aspects of it, because I want to bring out another point.

By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz

Rabbi Gewirtz (Operation Inspiration) welcomes comments and feedback. Write to him at to share your thoughts. You never know when you may be the lamp that enlightens someone else.

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