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My Tatty Used To Put Me Over His Knee In Shul…and now I hate to daven

My Tatty Used To Put Me Over His Knee In Shul

and now I hate to daven.

By Schwartzie

Granted, the fact that I was repeatedly spanked in public isn’t the only reason I hate to daven. Take the fact that shacharis is held at like 7:00 AM. That’s like three in the morning by my standards. To get ready and make it to minyan on time, a guy’s gotta be up by 6:20. I don’t think the alcohol is even out of my system by then. I simply can’t imagine starting every day by strangling my arm with leather straps while reminding myself what drek I really am in the eyes of the Creator (and don’t you tell me that’s not what tefillah is about.

Half of davening is profusely thanking God for favors He did us two thousand years ago, and the other half is tachnun). Have you ever been inside a shul?

I’m not talking about one of those big numbers, the plush ones with the high ceilings, stained glass, nice padded pews with the shtender incorporated to the back of the seat in front of you, the sanctuary that they only use on shabbos. I’m talking about the backup shul. It seems no matter how big the congregation, whenever I show up to daven they put us in the little side shul, the one with the air conditioning cranked up year round drying up my sinuses and exacerbating the headache that the unbelievably abrasive fluorescent lighting invariably gives me.

You wanna know why I liked the movie Junior with Arnold Schwartzanegger and Danny Devito? Two words: mitzvas aseh she’hazman gramah. Not that it matters. I don’t go anyway. But it’s the principle.

And even on shabbos, davening is torture for me. I’ll force myself to go once in a while, reassuring myself that it will be worth it in the end when I can fress like crazy at the kiddush and ogle the girls. Throughout shacharis and mussaf, I’ll just try to keep my eye on the prize (leining I can handle. It is interesting and changes every week).

But davening is long- we’re looking at a minimum two, two and a half hour chunk of my morning here, and what’s a guy gonna eat on his way out the door in the morning, a piece of Entenmann’s cake maybe? By ten o’clock I’m starving and the enticing smell of cholent and kugel doesn’t help settle me any.

And why can’t we talk to the girls?

I’m twenty-six years old. The gemara says I should have been married six years ago, and Rav Chisda thinks I should have been married ten years ago. Why isn’t anyone doing anything to facilitate this here? Why are they preventing me from throwing game at shul, a public area where both me and the girl are actually doing the right thing by being there. I’m supposed to be at shul. You don’t want me talking to a nice girl at a bar, maybe, or outside a sleazy motel, but honestly, what kind of trouble can I get into in shul? A friend of mine recently met some girls at shul, and ended up going on a picnic lunch with them in the park that afternoon. I don’t know how he did it, but I’m sure it was magnificent. Like the Roger Moore of shul flirting. A smooth operator. Usually when I try to talk to girls in shul, I get nasty looks.

So I can’t sit through an entire davening. I get bored, hungry, restless, and I spend my time either talking in the back or roaming the halls, annoying the caterer or something. I used to run around like a wild animal and play games with the other kids. In my old shul there were plenty of places to go, all kinds of interesting rooms- the rabbi’s office was never locked- a creepy attic, a big basement where the kiddushes were served, and a huge yard outside. We had no sense of self-awareness back then. The shul was a maze of entrances, and we would teem in and out of them like ants. I’d run up and down the aisle in the middle of the rabbi’s speech, shemona esrei, leining, you name it. I never could stand to daven- couldn’t sit still. Maybe that’s why my dad used to patsh me so much.

{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Alan August 31, 2009, 9:02 AM

    A few things:

    1. What does the movie Junior have to do with mitzvas that need to be performed at a set time?

    2.If you are going to a shul that frowns on 26 year olds talking to girls, you’re going to the wrong shuls. Unless you’re in a shteeble, or a yeshiva, there isn’t a shul in America that would frown on a 26 year old trying to meet a girl in shul.
    Just stop trying to pick up the teenage girls!

    3. I never go to shul during the week for the reasons you listed, but shabbos davening is easy. Just show up right before layning, take your seat, read the parsha, stick around for the rav’s speech, and then walk out for mussaf. You can usually help out prepare the kiddush – that works on so many levels because you get to eat and drink faster, premium access to the premium booze, and its a generally acceptable way to skip mussaf.

  • Shaul Wertheimer August 31, 2009, 9:15 AM

    B”H
    Yaakov, I think there may be a Chabad House near you that has opportunities for meeting members of the opposite gender. Would you like me to put you in touch with the kind Rabbi? He’s really a swell guy.

  • Heshy Fried August 31, 2009, 9:37 AM

    Oh Rabbi I love the shameless self promotion

  • Nechama August 31, 2009, 10:31 AM

    Hate to cay this Shwartzie but by writing this article youve lost your chances of marrying any nice girl(save a hooker)

    • Alter cocker April 10, 2012, 1:56 PM

      Since when are hookers nice girls

  • Nechama August 31, 2009, 10:34 AM

    But you see thing really nice thing about hookers is they love sex. That may be advantageous for you. What do they say:”variety is the spice of life”?

  • Bsamim Smoker August 31, 2009, 10:44 AM

    By the way, talking about minyans, do any of you old school Denver folk remember the Hooker Street Minyan( that ain’t no joke, there was really a shul called by that name). They had to close down because no self-respecting lady want to be affiliated with them.No ladies=No ladies auxiliary=No Kiddush Volunteers=No members. Google it!

  • offthederech August 31, 2009, 10:44 AM

    Loved this post. Davening is Chinese water torture, let’s face it. So is being frum. lmao

  • Phil August 31, 2009, 10:55 AM

    I wonder what would happen to the shuls if everyone in shul hated davening and just used it as a chance to meet girls.

    Maybe we could switch the schedule to 7:00 PM instead of AM, replace the boring chazzan with a DJ, those stupid flourescent bulbs with disco lights, and offer free drinks to women. Then you can grind hakafos all night long.

    Nah, forget it. Just go to a night club or rave instead, leave the shuls for those interested in davening.

  • offthederech August 31, 2009, 11:05 AM

    Okay Phil, we get it. You loooove davening…

  • Phil August 31, 2009, 11:16 AM

    OTD,

    Not as much as I should. Just pointing out that there is a time and place for everything. Do you sh*t in your kitchen?

    Why bother going to shul if you’re not interested in being there?

  • offthederech August 31, 2009, 11:22 AM

    >Why bother going to shul if you’re not interested in being there?

    I imagine there’s a lot of pressure on people to go to shul. Like most things frum people do, you don’t do them because you enjoy it. You do it because you have to and you can’t imagine anything else.

  • Phil August 31, 2009, 11:38 AM

    OTD,

    Ok, you have a point. But wouldn’t you agree that once you’re there, you might as well go along with the program instead of trying to do anything but.

  • offthederech August 31, 2009, 11:40 AM

    No. I think once you’re there anyway against your will, you might as well bitch and kvetch.

  • Anonymous August 31, 2009, 11:46 AM

    i know this was not the point of the post, but why should anyone else be faciliating you finding a girl? you just said, your 26-your an adult; it is always nice when people help out, but as an adult, find a shul/community that is ok with mingling, go to it and talk up some girls.

  • Heshy Fried August 31, 2009, 11:50 AM

    Who goes to shul against their will, I go to look at the chicks and read about the lust and murder in the tanach

  • Phil August 31, 2009, 11:51 AM

    It’s not like anyone put a gun to his head to force him to attend. I don’t think anyone should be there against there will. It’s not a prison, people are free to leave anytime.

    Out of respect for people that go there to worship, people that don’t want to be there should either put up or shut up, instead of disrupting the services (which happens very often).

    Worse of the bunch are the hypocrite talkers that yak away all davening, then keep shushing their kids every time they make a peep. What sort of example are they setting? What else do they expect their kids to do?

  • Phil August 31, 2009, 11:56 AM

    As a side note, I wonder if you could set up a mirror system or live cam and screen where you can watch the other side of the mechitza. Yes it defeats the purpose, but technically the separation is still valid.

    Maybe have a special section on both sides of the mechitza for those that aren’t really there to daven, they can choose to sit in view or out of view.

    Shuls can probably raise extra funds by selling those seats at a premium for the men, make them free for young, single women.

  • offthederech August 31, 2009, 12:00 PM

    As I’ve mentioned (and you’ve agreed), most people don’t enjoy shul. Yes, one or two claim to enjoy it, but my bet is most people cannot STAND it. (Anyone who goes to minyan less than twice a week shouldn’t comment; you do realize there are those who attend services, oh 20+ times a week?) It’s one of the problems with Orthodoxy in general: It’s unfair to force someone to do something and then also tell them how to do it. Because sooner or later, they’ll smarten up and dump the whole thing altogether (as I have), and then you’ll all be begging them to come back to help out the shidduch crisis.

  • offthederech August 31, 2009, 12:01 PM

    But your mechitza idea isn’t all that bad.

  • Phil August 31, 2009, 12:06 PM

    OTD,

    Personally I feel going to shul is the right thing to do, and feel bad if I don’t, so I go about 21 times a week.

    No better way to start my day than connecting with the creator at the crack of dawn (ok, maybe fishing on a nice lake at that time is great too).

  • Heshy Fried August 31, 2009, 12:06 PM

    The real question is who says shul has to be enjoyable?

  • offthederech August 31, 2009, 12:10 PM

    The question really is, is shul optional?

  • Heshy Fried August 31, 2009, 12:27 PM

    Well if you want a good shidduch it isn’t but for the rest of us who aren’t trying to marry into rabbinic dynasties – it probably isnt

    • Alter Cocker April 10, 2012, 2:26 PM

      What exactly does this mean? It isn’t but it isn’t?

  • Bsamim Smoker August 31, 2009, 12:31 PM

    Phil
    Remember the saying”What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. Well now we should have “What happens in shul stays in shul”

  • Daily Deist August 31, 2009, 12:35 PM

    shul was one of the main reasons i became irreligious and dropping shul was probably the first irreligious thing I did. All shul is torturous (kiddush and hot girls part aside), but the undisputed king of shul torture is a close tie between selichos and Yom Kippur. Eevery Yom Kippur, (till I was 22 or so and had to go) consisted of me checking how many pages were left every two minutes. And the minute Yom Kippur was finally over, I’d immediately start dreading next Yom Kippur.

  • offthederech August 31, 2009, 12:43 PM

    Selichos is the pits. It’s
    e
    v
    e
    r
    y

    d
    a
    y

  • G*3 August 31, 2009, 2:56 PM

    Shul is hell. There were Shabbosim when I was a kid that I would sit in shul wondering if I had died and was suffering for the bad things I had done. It was always a bit of a surprise when shul ended and I realized I was still alive after all.

    The worst is Rosh HaShanah / Yom Kippur. Sure, there’s a lot of material in the machzor, but it takes twice the time it has to. There’s nothing worse than sitting in shul listening to the chazan turn a two-letter word into three sylables and thinking, “If you just read it like we normally do, we could have been out of here an hour ago!”

  • CHEDVAH August 31, 2009, 5:37 PM

    You and Heshy Fried got very slim chances of marying if you spend all your time on these sites. Go to the dating sites

  • Jacob da Jew August 31, 2009, 8:09 PM

    Shul is tough. I agree. I get bored and knocked out usually.I’ll either space out and nod off or shoot the shit with a cellmate.

    Yes, I’m there to daven but shyte, I’v been reading the same book for 20 yrs!

  • shulem August 31, 2009, 9:54 PM

    i like people that speak the mind….i dont goto shul i daven at home. i have zero patience for the jerk who daven for the amud and thinnks he has all the time in the world because he is unemployed. also shabbos whats with the kiddush club??? so its what you make of it….great post…dont get me wrong i goto to shul when i feel spiritually motivated. i dont frumkeit to be a drag…so i do it with love…

  • Alan August 31, 2009, 9:57 PM

    As bad as rosh hashana and yom kippur are, there is something particularly evil about tisha b’av day – scraggly bearded hungry and smelly men wearing sandals laying on a dirty floor in a dimly lit room in the middle of a beautiful day in August, chanting in a foreign language to recall a tragedy that happened more than 2,000 years ago by the hands of a mortal enemy who no longer exists.

    I remember one year when it fell on a Sunday and as I was driving to shul something in me snapped and I said the heck with that noise, I’m going to the park.

    So I stopped at a bodega, bought the New York Times and hung out at a waterfront park reading the paper and magazine for a few hours until it was socially acceptable to go home.

    I haven’t even pretended to go back on Tisha Bav since. Its like this unspoken thing between my wife and I where she realizes that’s just not the issue she should be pressing, among so many other atheistic leanings and questions that ‘trouble’ my existence.

  • snl September 1, 2009, 8:12 PM

    G*3,
    -“Shul is hell. There were Shabbosim when I was a kid that I would sit in shul wondering if I had died and was suffering for the bad things I had done. It was always a bit of a surprise when shul ended and I realized I was still alive after all.”

    hahahaha, good one!

    i also hate going to shull. so i’m one of those undiagnosed cases of add. not to be confused with adhd. i’m not hyperactive, i just can’t concentrate on anything longer than um wait what was i saying… ya that would be how long….
    so anyway, shull has always been painful because i find myself sitting there having long conversations in my head and then an hour later realizing that the service is still not over!!! its one thing if my add worked to my advantage and after the above mentioned convo the service was over, but its not! it never is!!!! those services take forever!!!
    like i will be saying the shema and i get to the part talking about tzitzit and i think about that story of the yeshiva boys who learned all the intricate details of the ties and the tchelet and the length of the fringes…. but then they get to the exam and there’s one question, are you wearing tzitzit? the story is about not just learning torah but about going out there and practicing it so i then think about practicing torah… and i think back to the tzitzit, and i wonder as a girl, should i put tzitzit on a scarf? it is after all a four corner garment after all… and so maybe as a girl i don’t need to wear tzitzit but then does a guy need tzitzit on a scarf? and why not women? because we are so spiritual? well if i am so spiritual why can’t i even get through the shema? darn. i did it again… so i know that shema needs to be said with a lot of kavanah so should i restart from the beginning? but then have i said hashems name in vain? ok, i’ll restart, better safe than sorry… oooo mezuzahs! i remember when i got my first mezuzah! not the generic one that always hung on my door but when i was seven and we moved to a new house, i got to pic a pretty casing for the one on my door………
    shoot, i think i was supposed to be saying the shema here….
    if going to shull was fun or if everyone sang out loud together for every prayer then perhaps i wouldn’t find myself drifting so far!!!!! but i drift, i can’t help it… and yet when i snap back into it, the service is still not over!!!!

  • Shabbos Goy February 7, 2011, 8:49 PM

    If yiddishkeit is so darned awful, why not drop it, peeps? I mean, sheesh, it ain’t hard? Say no to yiddishkeit and yes to freikeit!
    Freedom!!!

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