By most people’s standards I belong to modern orthodoxy, some may throw me into post denominational neo-chossid type of groups, but I just can’t seem to stand Modern Orthodox High Holiday services. Thank God the chazzan had a yeshivish nusach or I may have had to shoot myself, but there was something missing that I just couldn’t put my finger on right away. This was my first year wearing a talis and was finally able to hide my tear streaked face in the folds (for the life of me I couldn’t bring forth those tears even though I tried hard). I counted others who wished to vanish beneath their talis folds and there were less than a minyan of us. Thank God that’s not a halachic requirement of teshuvah or we would all have been smitten.
I retreated several times into the little beis medrish to learn hichos Rosh Hashanah and an old frayed Ben-Gurion biography. I sat around wondring why I was feeling so blah this year,my yearly cheshvan came back positive, one bike was stolen but I got a wife so it seemed like I was on the up and u, but I couldn’t seem to get into the Rosh Hashanah mood (whatever that may be). Then it hit me, as I looked around the room and saw mostly those once a year type of folks with the pointed white yarmulkes and talesim worn as scarves, I realized that no one was crying, shuckling themselves to a spinal cord injury or throwing fists into the air asking God for a good year.
The lack of kavannah was effecting my usual lack of kavannah and I recalled my yeshiva days. The days when we were woken up by the deep voice of one of the Rabbis imitating God’s supposed baritone thunder by saying “Yom Ha-din do teshuvah now or you will never be redeemed.” Sure, we all turned over andkept on sleeping with the comfort of knowing that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were some of the only days of the year when we could actually sleep in. Once you did get into the beis medrish you instantly sobered up because people were literally crying. The atmosphere was tense and everyone actually believed that RH was the day in which Hashem decided if yor kollel check would be enough to cover Thursday night cholent expenses. I think this is lost in most shuls, it’s robably not only the Modox who lose this idea, but I just happened to be davening in a Modox shul and shul and no one was crying their brains out.
Naturally I always thought the crying crowd were a bunch of fakers, but in my old age I miss them. I would take a bunch of fake cryers over scarf talis once a year shul goers any day.
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