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Kavannah development

Last week was a bad week, you would think that after the rabbis fiery mussar speeches leading up to Chanukah would have stirred the deep recesses of my soul and they kind of did, but unfortunately my guf didn’t respond in kind. Instead of rushing to shul to sing my praises for the fact that as assimilated as we are, we can still be open Jews and not get killed for it. Sure, I kind of wanted to hit up shul like I normally do, but damn was I tired. The yetzer harah hijacked last week, I missed all the damn chanukah parties, got no homemade sufganyot and missed hallel half of the days (full hallel is a bitch)

But get this, the week before I made shachris and maariv almost every day, I got to mincha a couple times and showed up to shabbos shachris before the rabbi got up to give his speech. On top of that I even got some learning done and actually felt some stirrings of the soul during davening (I would say that the stirrings have increased based on financial need, but it’s a start)

Ask anyone who’s a bit cynical and has been davening their whole life the chances are slim that they have such intense kavanah that they don’t wind up wondering if they said shemona esrei at shachris that day. I myself can frequently start it and finish it and wonder which brachos I missed. Sure, I’m jealous of those dudes who can shuckel like madmen, clop like they’re trying to restart their hearts and cry during a normal weekday mincha. When I wanna look real frum I throw up a fist and shake it at God wondering why he’s got beef with me.

I have been keeping an eye on the hashgacah prutus meter and I kind of feel like some fanatic who hangs out in Roswell, calculating every event and trying to figure out the masters plan. It’s actually interesting when you realize or think you realize that there’s someone controlling things other than you. It gets dangerous when you start to realize you have no control and start scheming about such madness, then you can call up your old high school rebeim rehash the old yeshiva guy question that revolves around understanding bechira. No matter how many times I’ve had the ellul talk about bechirah with people I still don’t get it, but instead of going off the derech I just ignore such fallacies.

My kavannah waxes and wanes, but I’m not giving up yet.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • jiujitsu princess December 19, 2012, 12:01 AM

    lol about the ‘hashgacha pratis meter’! I totally get how you feel. About bechira…it did bother me for a long time, as it did many others. I came to the conclusion that it’s one of those things that can only be understood on a higher (read: G-dly) plane of understanding. This answer sounds like a copout (I would hate when teachers gave that kind of answer to hashkafa questions), but no – this is actually one of the rare cases where this concept applies. I’ll elaborate though: the key part to the bechira paradox is the concept of time. Time is a dimension of reality as we perceive it. It is impossible to imagine a world in which time is not part of the equation, though obviously it is not beyond G-d to do so. That’s why our minds can’t reconcile that on one hand G-d knows what we will do before we do it, while on the other hand we have freedom to do as we choose and G-d is not so to speak “controlling” our choices.
    The issue of hashgacha pratis vs. bechira doesn’t seem like such a conflict to me…we can’t control the circumstances around us, but we are always in control of our actions.
    The bechira and time issue is really very interesting and complex…I could start getting into Albert Einstein’s theories about time and space because they relate to the issue in several ways…but that’s probably beyond the scope of a mere comment on a post on a blog. Though of course frum satire is singular in its genius.
    re going off the derech: (oh how I hate that term – it’s like when nonreligious ppl say that someone like Larry Ellison isn’t Jewish – denouncing one’s Jewish identity completely is much rare than people like to think…) I don’t think people go off the derech because of conflicts found in Torah. I think when ppl go off the d it’s usually because of personal stuff. There are answers to hashkafa and Torah questions…there is such a wealth of information available…one only has to go educate one’s self.

  • Mark December 19, 2012, 12:29 AM

    I relate, really relate, love it, brilliant, wonderful, bravo! Much better than the usual smut you have posted.

  • Ex bochur December 19, 2012, 5:44 AM

    Yup. One case where the frum establishment really knows what they are talking about when they tell youngsters that they really need to get married.

  • AT December 19, 2012, 9:47 PM

    great post.

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