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The frum satire guide to Shemona Esrei

I have written extensively on the ways people daven, judging them by the ways they pronounce things and the movements they make. Heck, I’ve written and done comedy routine videos on the most skipped parts of davening and why that is, but I’ve never actually written about the davening itself. Now I know that some of you are going to get those tzitzis of yours in a bunch, but take a moment to pull that kishke out of your tuches, or simply leave the page if my making fun of our sacred prayers is too much for you to handle. Hang around and you may actually learn something. 

I know this is going to sound cliche, but Shemona Esrei is my kind of prayer. You lock yourself into a little space in the corner of shul, next to your car or on the top of a mountain and go talk to God. This is one of those scheduled talks, this is not one of those situations where your screaming at God and giving him the finger. The prayers are all planned out, we say it three times a day and if you aren’t careful it can get pretty repetitive. A few years ago I decided that anyone who davens with kavannah and doesn’t know what they’re saying is full of crap. How can you plead with God of all people if you have no idea what you’re pleading? Of course, some of you more learned folks may have some sort of Talmudic response to my blasphemy, but logic states that if you don’t know what you’re saying, you might as well shuckel like a moron so that God can understand that those violent shakes have something to do with all that biblical Hebrew as a third language coming out of your mouth. This all means that I decided to learn the davening and in the process I came up with a unique way of davening shemona esrei.

Guide to Shemona Esrei

Mogen Avraham: God is the shiznit, he creates stuff and was the God of all. I’m down with creation, I’m down with the awesome and supreme God. I wonder if Atheists skip the first bracha? I’m not sure about the whole shield of abraham thing, but I like the bestowing of kindness.

M’chayei Mesim: It’s all about living man and they also decided to throw in some reincarnation here. My focus in this bracha is always about healing and support of those who cannot take care of themselves. Sure, maybe I’m a sucker for Tikkun Olam. Not sure what I’m going to come back as in the next life though. I’d like to be a mountain lion.

Ata Kadosh: Not my kind of bracha in all honesty, but a good segway to one of the most important bracha’s in the shemona esrei.

Ata Chonen: Thank God for my knowledge, ability to think and all that jazz. This is where I always think about utilizing my God given abilities in life, writing, cooking, navigation, memory, etc…I also question the purpose of this knowledge and sometimes, if I’m in the right place this bracha could end up being a little bit meditative.

Hashiveinu: This is where I wonder if I’m doing the right shit or if I’m straying far from the Lord. This is where I ask God to put me on a level where I can do what’s right, of course right is all relative and then I start asking God to get rid of my existential woes and bring me back so I can cleave to his cleavage, I always figured God in the male form would be a big cuddly fellow with large man boobs for us to nuzzle up against as if they were large pillows.

Selach Lanu: I call this the wasting seed bracha, I just always hope my two clops are enough to prevent me from boiling in all that wasted semen. Sometimes I clop for loshon horah, sometimes for writing something evil on the blog and sometimes to not judging someone favorably and sometimes for getting angry. Repentance; everyone’s doing it man.

Re’eh: I usually end up missing this bracha and going right to the next one, I don’t even know how to relate redemption to myself and haven’t figured out a use for this bracha yet.

R’phaeinu: As a cook I have cuts and burns, as a biker I have scars and tree incidents and when I myself am not in need of healing – it’s a good bracha to use for someone else. Everyone knows someone that’s suffering in one way or another and this bracha is a great way to focus on someone other than yourself.

Barech Aleinu: Everyone’s favorite, because as we’ve said before life is about money. Everyone wants more of it and no one ever seems to have enough of it. Of course, if you’re in Israel you can also ask for rain, but here in the states – we are in it for the money. I try not to focus on money, but asking for dew just seems odd to me.

Tekah B’shofar: Another bracha I’m not so into, I kind of like exile and am not the biggest fan of living in Israel and joining all the other exiles. Although maybe it’s just talking about this years siyum hashas.

Hasheva: I’m also not so sure about restoring sanhedrin and talmudic times judges, but I also have in mind that God is being fair in his judgement of me and others and not just basing it on how big their yarmulke is.  I also have in mind that no one besides God can really judge me and that I shouldn’t be doing what everyone else is doing, but what I should be doing – whatever that may be…

V’lamalshinim: Down with those heretics, with Deborah Feldman on our minds – I’m sure there has been an increased on this bracha which asks for God to speedily uproot, smash, cast down and humble all those wanton sinners. Just put the steamed wanton down and back away slowly…

Al Hatzadikim: This is where I daven for all those brilliant hidden tzadikim I know and all my friends who are hopeless when it comes to careers and love lives – but somehow know a lot in the Torah department. For some reason I feel that all of my ex-yeshiva, still frum, single and very learned friends will be taken care of because of their righteousness. This is also where I pray that the elders and gedolim do what’s right and not what someone shoved in front of them. I pray for the righteous to remain righteous, but they are slowly fading into the wastelands of Rebbe corporate sponsorship and BS bans.

The next two bracha’s blow. I’m just being honest, rebuilding the temple doesn’t do it for me in any way shape or form and Davidic reign didn’t sound too great…maybe, it’s good to remain ignorant of the translation and just carry on in your violent newly minted post aish whacky baal teshuvaness, but I’ve already broken the seal.

Shema Koleinu: Damn straight I want God to accept my prayers and listen to me, heck I’ve been having more kavannah lately and he better show me the money. Don’t turn me away empty handed dawg.

Ritzeh: Another bracha which has no use for me, well I could use some temple barbecue. I’m willing to bet good money that when the temple services are brought back, someone is going to come out with a line of 3rd Temple Hot Sauces to spice up that karbon barbecue.

Modiim: Probably the only bracha universally recognized, because who doesn’t want to give thanks. Thanks for the awesome life, for my eyes, working body parts, hot future wife, car, 3 bikes, beautiful scenery, good job, free rent, awesome trails, yesterday’s sunset. You can really throw in anything right before that bow, even when I’m rushing, you shouldn’t rush, but man’s curse is that we don’t have enough appreciation – I like to take a moment to thank the Lord for all the bounty in my life. Even when life sucks buttholes, I give my thanks, because if life was all good – then I’d assume God forgot about me and I was using up all my brownie points in olam hazeh and that when I got up to the olam habah I’d go immediately to be poached in semen.

V’chul Hachaim: Just pile on that thanks, I did give you life after all. As if the narcissistic God during pisukei d’zimra wasn’t enough…

Sim Shalom: I have a feeling that super liberals love this bracha, everyone could use a little peace in their lives. There really is nothing like that peaceful easy feeling that The Eagles sang about and that’s what Sim Shalom is about for me.

Find out more about shemona esrei on 4torah.com


{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Michael February 21, 2012, 11:21 PM

    Great break down of the Amida – thanks for posting.

  • OfftheDwannaB February 22, 2012, 12:20 AM

    Ew, why r u thinking about nuzzling gods man boobs?

    • T February 22, 2012, 12:19 PM

      Ditto 🙂

  • Ora February 22, 2012, 12:23 AM

    LOVE it. You do ROCK, Hesh.

  • chaim February 22, 2012, 6:19 AM

    Basicly anything that has to do with moshiach is not your kind of brocha since you don’t relate to it

  • Not interested in sharing February 22, 2012, 6:44 AM

    My Rabbi feels the loss of the Sandendrin is one of the greatest tragedies of the Galut. If there was a Sanhedrin, with wisdom, common sense and rules, we would not have every guy with a beard carrying on, burning books and banning music. There would be a one stop shop for a Halachic decision and we would actually know what to do. As for your wanton sins, just make sure there are no witnesses.

    • Yochanan February 22, 2012, 7:20 PM

      We’d have guys giving lashes to men who hear women sing.

  • Mark February 22, 2012, 7:42 AM

    Sim Shalom: I have a feeling that super liberals love this bracha

    Absolutely true. I’ve been to shuls (OJ and CJ ones) that have taken much more time singing sim shalom than they take for kedusha or any other part of shmona esrei.

    • batsheva February 23, 2012, 11:17 PM

      Ditto. Yep. You were right on the money with this one, Hesh.

  • AztecQueen2000 February 22, 2012, 7:42 AM

    Who knows, maybe when Mashiach comes, the whole world will turn into one big Israel, with free El Al flights to Jerusalem at the Shalosh Regalim for you, your family, and your korban of choice.
    Nice breakdown, BTW. (This is why one should daven in English if one doesn’t know what one is saying.)

  • Should be working February 22, 2012, 7:48 AM

    Who says frumsatire isn’t kiruv? I love this.

  • Nesya February 22, 2012, 7:53 AM

    Soo for mechaye metim, I tend to apply the Yamim Noraim concept of “living while you’re alive”, ie making sure your soul is alive. I guess I find the real mechaye metim difficult to apply to myself, like you do with the beit hamikdash stuff. Re. the money bracha, don’t EVER underestimate it. I always used to downplay it cause I strive not to be too materialistic, but about 1 year of unemployment later, my kavannah for this bracha has gone way up. Especially now that you’re getting married-no need to ask for crazy riches, but at least the basics, like a roof over your heads, meals to eat etc. should not be taken for granted, you don’t know how dependent you are on God’s mercy until one day you suddenly are…

  • Philo February 22, 2012, 8:10 AM

    OK, so I try not to be the grammar police too much. Nobody likes that. But this sentence was too painful:

    “Ata Kadosh: Not my kind of bracha in all honesty, but a good segway to one of the most important bracha’s in the shemona esrei.”

    A Segway is this. You mean segue.

    Plus, stop using the possessive apostrophe-s when you mean plural! It should be “brachas”, not “bracha’s”!

    OK, getting off my annoying grammar high horse now. Other than that, awesome post!

    • batsheva February 23, 2012, 11:28 PM

      Thank you, Philo. What I don’t get is why, when his fiancee is really good at this stuff, doesn’t he ask her to proof his work before he posts it? I’m sure she’d be happy to do it for him. The only explanation is that he just doesn’t care.

  • Philo February 22, 2012, 8:15 AM

    I’m not that into the idea of geulah either. So for the brachot that have to do with redemption, the rebuilding of the beit mikdash, and the reinstatement of the Davidic monarchy, I just reinterpret them to make them meaningful to me, such as a yearning for a utopian future where all people’s rights will be respected, there will be no more war, etc. For instance, the Davidic monarchy can symbolize the unity of the Jewish people.

  • Philo February 22, 2012, 8:19 AM

    I find that for myself, Mechaye Metim is the bracha that provokes the most thought. Basically, at 2 times of year, for a couple of weeks, it’s: “Did I say Mashiv HaRuach or not?”

    Hey, I didn’t say deep thought.

  • T February 22, 2012, 12:25 PM

    This is freaking awesome. My kind of humor! Thanks, Heshy. Modim anachnu lecha 😉

    some thoughts:

    “Barech Aleinu”:  In the desert area that I live in, Baruch Aleinu means that we really need that “dew”!  It’s dry here, man.  It’s freakin 90 degrees during the winter in the El Nina winters.

    “V’lamalshinim” :  I like wontons.  But we’re glutards so it’s rice paper kreplach here.

    “Ritzeh”:  I love this bracha.  I keep hoping the future will be brighter, not withstanding global warming mishegas.  But it also reminds me thrice daily of how the torah can be misinterpreted and somehow lost in the translation.  I once met a person choosing a new name for his transsexual self.  He looked through the Torah with English translations for a biblical name for himself.  He found the phrase “dedicated to Gd”.  This is a real argument for only reading the Chumash in its original language bc this new *boy* named himself Karbon.

  • A February 22, 2012, 3:16 PM

    Incredible post – managed to make me laugh out loud a few times (“large man boobs”?) and reflect on my own kavanos during shemone esrei.
    Irreverent and insightful.

    You rock, man.

  • David February 22, 2012, 7:23 PM

    For Re’eh- Instead of abstract Messianic redemption, how about more practical and familiar redemptions. “God, please redeem me from my joblessness.” Or, “God, please redeem me from my lack of a significant other.”

  • Yochanan February 22, 2012, 7:30 PM

    According to the Metzuda Siddur, after “Rekam ‘al tschivenu” in the Shma Kolenu section, you can insert your own personal prayers. Lately, I’ve been praying for success in dating.

    One thing that annoys me (and probably brings out the bleeding heart liberal) is that everything is so Judeocentric. “Who heals the sick of his people ISRAEL” Who heals the Goyim? Zeus? Jesus? Ba’al? I thought we believe that the one true God created the whole world and all the life in it.

    • OfftheDwannaB February 23, 2012, 1:47 AM

      It makes sense if you know more history about the Jews at the time it was written.

  • Yirmi February 23, 2012, 8:18 PM

    Great post! A few thoughts:

    Re’eh: In addition to its messianic connotations, this has been interpreted to refer to everyday problems and struggles people have. “Deliver us from our problems” — individually and as a nation.

    Hasheva: We already have judges. I think what we should ask for here is *real* leaders, like the prophets of days of old, who are really qualified to be judges, because, in the Chafetz Chaim’s words, they have “strong and fearless hearts to rescue an exploited or victimized person from the one who oppresses him.” The Jewish community has a lot of problems and we need brave, divinely-inspired leaders who will help us fix our problems (though we of course should do our part).

    V’lamalshinim: May the heretics and anti-semites change their minds so we earthlings can all be one big happy family!

  • Yirmi February 23, 2012, 8:28 PM

    Also, for the universalistically-inclined, here’s something to think about. The messianic era will end all injustice and suffering for everyone in the whole world. So all of the blessings of the Amidah that relate to some aspect of the messianic era, are also pleas for bringing about happiness for all beings. Some Conservative shuls add “l’olam” after the words “sim shalom,” but it’s not necessary, because when we’re praying for the redemption we’re really praying for the whole world.

    “Each person should say to himself: `The whole world was created only for my sake,’ One should therefore constantly be looking for ways of improving the world in order to make up for any deficiencies, and one should constantly pray for the world” (Likutei Eitzvot, Tefilah 9).

    • Dan February 24, 2012, 9:18 AM

      That sounds kind of apologetic. I don’t need to apologize.

    • Benjamin E. March 5, 2012, 12:52 PM

      The “baolam” insertion that you call “Conservative” is actually from R. Saadia Gaon’s siddur. The only people who use it these days are Conservative shuls, but they didn’t make it up. If you think it’s extraneous or superfluous, take it up with R. Saadia 🙂

  • batsheva February 23, 2012, 11:29 PM

    Truly a beautiful post, Heshy.

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