Dear Rabbi Brody,
I don’t feel any kind of emotion when I go to synagogue. Praying seems to be a drag, and I feel nothing. I want to be a proper BT, but I just can’t seem to pray. What should I do?
Thanks, FR from New Jersey
The old Novardok Yeshiva remedy for firing up a person with your problem is to say the prayer “Nishmas kol chai” from the Shabbos morning service; you can say it at any time or at any place, and it works wonders. Say each word slowly, loudly, and with fervor, as if you’re counting one-hundred dollar bills. If you don’t understand the Hebrew, say the translation from an English prayer book, then go back and say the Hebrew. Contemplate every word. By the time you’re through, you’ll have thawed out. Normally, when a person says “Nishmas” like he/she should, he/she kindles a bonfire of love for Hashem in their heart.
Here’s another remedy for spiritual chill: Take a pen and paper, and make a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life. Don’t forget your eyes, ears, arms, legs, heart, kidneys, lungs, and other vital organs. Don’t forget your home, your furniture, and your clothes. Contemplate all the people in the world who lack your good fortune. Now, thank Hashem from the bottom of your heart. You’ll certainly feel a lot warmer inside.
A third remedy for spiritual chill is to say Psalm 19, outside under a clear blue sky, contemplate the magnitude of Hashem, and then gaze at the sky. Wait and see what happens to you!
A fourth remedy is to play your favorite disco/Broadway/aerobic/Chassidic melody, and plug in the words of Psalm 148 from psukei DeZimra. Now, continue with the rest of the davening with your chosen niggun in your head; your feet will be flying, and so will your heart – straight up to Hashem.
If you take all four of the above bits of advice, you’ll be warming up all of Jersey this winter.
Best wishes always, Lazer Brody