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My first time davening for the amud

Until last week, the closest I’ve ever come to davening for the amud, was saying the haftorah at my bar mitzvah. I’m one of those people that used to avoid getting any sort of shul job from fear of doing a sloppy job. I gradually grew into accepting aliyos, gelilah and pesicha once in a while. I still reject hagbah (I don’t want that kind of responsibility) and I generally shy away from any job that will require me to sit down with the Torah for any period of time. Davening for the amud is different, since I went so long without doing it, I built up a fear of it and always refrained, until last week that is. I had yertzeit for my mother (may she rest in peace) last week and I decided on the way home from work that I would daven for the amud.

I’m not sure if you could imagine the fear I have for davening for the amud, fear of being too slow, mumbling the words and screwing something up bad enough to warrant some old guy in back of the shul to correct me and say “nu, whatsa matter wit ya?” I have several friends who had a fear of being called to the Torah, so much that they never told anyone they were a cohen or a levi to avoid having to be put on the spot every time. I was never that bad, but the Rabbi in San Jose has been asking me to daven for the amud pretty frequently and in our community cult, people rarely refuse to do anything for the rabbi.

I confirmed that it was an auspicious thing to daven for the amud when you’re a chiyuv (saying kaddish) and off I went. The experience was interesting, I have no voice and so I sound like someone trying to speed daven while not being able to pronounce half the words correctly, during my repetition of shemona esrei I realized that I had never said several of the harder to pronounce words in V’Lamalshinim before. I stumbled like a lost BT and couldn’t say the words any slower, I then realized there were other brachos that I have probably always skipped or mumbled through. I was also going slow enough to piss off anyone who wanted to rush out.

Not only did davening for the amud make me realize that I rarely say the whole shemona esrei word for word. It also made me realize that saying the whole thing slowly would probably prevent those annoying “no reason boners” and random sex thoughts that always seem to enter the mind during spacey shemona esrei’s of mine. I guess it’s a good thing that my community has very few judgmental FFB’s like myself and everyone is so cheery that no one would ever comment on my poor davening.

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{ 62 comments… add one }
  • Anonymous January 29, 2013, 8:22 PM

    PUTZ! U can do it when r u davining next

  • Anon January 29, 2013, 8:32 PM

    I have a similar problem. Often, I see the gabbai coming over to my end of the shul. I wait, and I wait, and I wait. The tension builds. I’m getting ready to tell him my name, and I’m scared out of my wits that I’ll mess up. Nervous as hell. Then, when he picks someone else, I think “What the hell is wrong with him?! I go here almost every week (relatively small minyan, mind you), and I haven’t gotten an aliyah in months!”

  • Mordchallah January 29, 2013, 9:18 PM

    Yi’Yasher Kochachoh.

    And may your mother’s neshommoh continue to rise through the higher levels of Olom HaBoh.

    • jm January 30, 2013, 1:00 PM

      I think you neant Gan Eden. Olam Haba is LeAsid Lavoh.

    • jm January 30, 2013, 1:00 PM

      I think you meant Gan Eden. Olam Haba is LeAsid Lavoh.

  • Anonymous January 29, 2013, 9:20 PM

    yasher koach! great article. I would share it on facebook if it didn’t have the word “boner” in it. i think of my facebook wall like a kosher kitchen. it’ll have a great spot in olam haba. but I digress. you probably get that sort of response a lot. regardless, I greatly enjoy your honest perspective on frum life. may your positive influence always be a source of nachas to you and your family, and an aliya for your mother’s neshama.

  • ms January 30, 2013, 2:26 AM

    shouldnt it be davening from the amud not for the amud? Am I missing something here?

    • ISR January 30, 2013, 3:24 AM

      Actually I believe it comes from the yiddish phrase “faren amud” which mean “infront of the amud” this kind of leads to “for the amud” when said in English

  • Shragi January 30, 2013, 5:04 AM

    The first time I davened for the amud on Shabbos morning I got up there with my heart up inside my lungs and as soon as I started saying “shoichain ad” my mouth dried up, when it came to “yishtabach” I couldn’t even open my mouth to get the words out, I was hyperventilating.
    The gabbai was standing in front of me unlocking the aron kodesh and, when I was quiet for too long he turned around to see what the matter was and he had a look on his face…that only made things worse!
    I got through it but they never asked me to daven again, so I guess I got my money’s worth.

  • abishter's right hand man January 30, 2013, 5:55 AM

    Ahhh . . . davening for the amud. I’ve done it a lot over the years, during the week, on Shabbat, and on chagim. Now that I’m doing it every day (I’m in aveilut for my Dad), well, this is when the comments start coming. They’re always done in a hushed tone, as if I may get embarrassed from what the person is about to tell me.

    One guy tells me I’m starting Kaddish to quickly after the Amidah in ma’ariv, while another tells me “you only have to wait for 6 men, then just go ahead.” Another simply hands me a siddur, and points to a paragraph in the Hebrew introduction that talks about correct vowel pronunciation. One night, a guy comes over after I daven ma’ariv to tell me “if X is here, you daven mincha and let him daven ma’ariv. Your pronunciation is better than his, and most of us would rather you daven anyway.”

    The most nerve racking part of all this is that I’m davening with an American Ashkanazi accent in an Israeli shule.

  • PeleYoetzElGiborAviAdSarShalom January 30, 2013, 9:45 AM

    By the end of the year of saying kaddish for my mother ( Mary ? ), I became quite fluent in the davening. Once you are fluent, trust me, those nasty thoughts will pick up again – even when you are davening for the amud.

    If the requisite 6-10 are tarrying in their shmoneh esreh, you can hum the tune from jeapordy if you want to have some fun.

  • Marco January 30, 2013, 10:24 AM

    During my year of aveilut I was punctual and adamant about not missing any of the minyan tefelot. Having not attended nor even davening at all I registered a
    sense of community and regularity (not the digestive kind) with my new minyan
    family. After the eleven months mincha was jettsioned like the next day and maariv along with it. Shcaharit though lasted for 7 years. About 6 years ago I found myself in shul on yharzteit day and chose not to adverstise that I was a “chiuv”. I just didn’t want to hassle with that anymore with all the ritual and extra things that particular syangouge engaged in. A few weeks ago at the time yahrtzeit I was asked if was interested in chanting the haftorah. I accepted and the “oilum” was blown away. Someone mentioned that he didn’t realize that I knew how to daven.

  • Michael K. January 30, 2013, 11:07 AM

    Once I learned that you have to actually pronounce all the words to some degree, I lost interest.

  • BZ January 30, 2013, 2:15 PM

    I said havdallah at shul once. Does that count? (The last time I really davened for the amud was during my Bar Mitzvah Shabbos Mussaf. Oh wait, there was that one Shabbos Maariv when there was no minyan).

  • Velvel January 31, 2013, 10:21 PM

    The Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya that machshava zaras that come to us during davenen should not get us down. On the contrary, the fact that the yetzer hara is working overtime by putting such things in our minds in our davenen reveals that it is reacting to our extra effort at kavanah. One should be encouraged by this and proceed with gusto. However, it could also be because you watch too many pornos and those images are clogging up your mind when you daven. Try learning a little chassidus before davenen. You will like it! It certainly can’t hurt. 😉

  • Nathan February 2, 2013, 8:01 PM

    Rema commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Siman 53, Sif 25, Sif Katan 81:

    A prayer leader [Shaliach Tzibbur] who defiles his mouth
    with crude words [HaMenavel Piv] or sings songs of
    Gentile religions, it is correct to protest that he should not do this.
    And if he refuses to listen, he should be removed.

    CHRONOLOGY: The Rema was Rabbi Moshe Isserles, who was born in year 1520 of the Common Era and died in 1572 in Cracow, Poland.

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