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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