A Fresh Look at Davening

In the beginning, davening was all about singing and dancing and connecting to G-d. They were amazing times…..We would go to the old ivy covered Hillel House at G.W.U. (George Washington University in D.C) on Friday night, first daven the “service” and then make a communal Shabbat dinner (or maybe it was the other way around back then). There must have been 15 or 20 of us, blue jeans and long hair, loving the world, and in love with being Jewish, eyes shining and hearts wide open, and we danced and sang underneath the huge banner across one wall of the room that read, “Transcend!” We felt so in touch with G-d and the universe, so connected and united with the Jewish people all over the world, and all through history, that the words of the Shma burned deep into our souls, and I knew that I had found my place.
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Davening in Shul or Yeshiva

For the past several years I have been davening Shabbos mornings in one of the local yeshivos. It is comfortable, quiet and my chavrusa sits across from me. Immediately after davening, we learn and I don’t have to involve myself with the inevitable politics that occurs in some shuls. My family and I are also members of a well-known and prestigious shul. The Rav is an extraordinarily respected talmid chachom and posek. The people are chashuv and menschlich. It’s also quiet and there are no disparaging conversations. However, the needs of the yeshiva are few while the needs of the shul are many. After nearly two years of the Rav saying to me with a big smile, “Come around a once in a while, we miss you,” combined with my boys’ (ten and seven) desire to attend Shabbos groups and my wife’s thirst to develop and bond with others, I relented. Considering that I am not easily persuaded about most things, my wife was shocked at how efficiently and effortlessly I began davening at our shul. Of course when the Rav finally looked at me straight in my eyes and ominously stated, “You’re making a very big mistake, ” I had little choice.
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