Okay, so here comes two rants - both of which are inter-related. First and foremost, it all turns back to the sign that hangs (and to the best of my knowledge still hangs) in my parents shul. The sign was a picture of a man in his Tallis and Tefillin surrounded by all kinds of electronic devices - pagers, cell phones, etc. - each of which was circled in red with a line across them kind of like a 'No-Smoking' sign is, and the caption beneath it read something like this:
Please turn off your Pager or Cellphone, You're interfering with my 'Communication'.
A cute, but blunt reminder that we are to only be communicating with one entity during davening - G-d in heaven. I've opined in this space time and again about how beautiful it is to have this notion that every individual - even involved in group prayer - is communicating individually and directly with G-d. This is our quiet time with the man upstairs - how dare we talk, or check our incessantly buzzing BlackBerries, etc. I could go on a rant, but in the past few weeks, it dawned on me that I am just as bad as anyone out there. I check my BlackBerry during Chazarat HaShaT"Z and I talk during davening just as much as the next guy. And then I became the Gabbai.
Standing at the Bimah during the Torah reading, one gets a different perspective on how Noisy a shul can get. I also caught myself looking at my BlackBerry during our office Mincha Minyan. I was wondering how to improve my davening, and the answer was plainly obvious - I am going to start with the man in the mirror, and I ask that those of you who read this do the same.
But that's just one rant - the other rant is that improving your davening in the presense of a minyan only works when you show up at the minyan. In our shul this week, it seems that every night we have a hard time getting our 9:15 ma'ariv minyan together. Granted, both of our local Day Schools were off this week (or at least partially) but at the same time, we had to make phone calls every night to get a minyan. I'd like to think that in a community with a 100 families 10 people can show up on most nights for Ma'ariv, but alas that's not the case.
I guess I need to 'Start with me'.
Thanks for listening.