Mincha: a love/hate relationship

When the rabbi in San Jose spoke about mincha this past week in shul, he tried to pump us full of mussar and convince us to show up for  the 4:30pm mincha which will be starting after the clocks change in a week or so. Yitzchak invented mincha, I wonder if there was mechitza where he was davening to separate him and Rivkah, or did they just meet after he davened? Maybe they spoke over the mechitza like they do at modern orthodox shuls where it’s low enough; they did have lower mechitzas back in the day.

According to the Rabbi in San Jose, mincha is the toughest prayer of the day. I tend to disagree with his analysis, but his reasoning was that shachris is at the beginning of the day when you are fresh and maariv is at the end of the day when you have plenty of time to daven, while mincha forces you to stop in the middle of whatever you may be doing and bust out some thanks to the Lord. For many people, including myself, even when we’re not asleep, shachris can be tough because we are half asleep; just yesterday I was saying ashrei at the end of davening and I went right into yishtabach because I forgot I was on the second ashrei. Marriv is tough for me, because I usually say it near bedtime, so I’m tired and just want to get it over with, besides it’s just a reshus (whatever the heck that means – but when someone told me that I automatically thought it was optional for extra brownie points)

I always loved Mincha, it’s short and encompasses what I may call some of the best prayers, ashrei is good praising, shemona esrei is the bomb and aleinu is pretty cool as well. I don’t know tachanun by heart and I usually daven mincha in the woods or next to my car, rarely with a minyan since I work at that time. If they could have just thrown in Hama-ir la’aretz I would have set, but alas I can say that in the morning. So I love mincha, but I hate it too!

I don’t hate the prayer, I hate that mincha service is usually held at the best time of day for being outside, dusk. The light is slanting, the sun is setting and the air is a bit brisker, the traffic is lighter and in general it’s a great time to be outside. There have been countless battles with my yetzer harah over whether or not to attend shul during this time, so mincha remains a love hate relationship.

However, I also love mincha precisely because of  this; I’m always sleepy at shachris and maariv, but mincha comes at the best time of day. Since mincha is usually in the middle of the day, it is solely done for God, you have to stop whatever you are doing and take time out to pray and I like that, it’s kind of like tying my shoes the kabalistically correct way – it reminds you that someone else is running the show and I’m down with that.