Maryland Blogger Alliance

Alliance FAQs

Latest MBA Posts

April 02, 2006

Member of the club

Sometimes, there's something really reassuring about the repetition involved in the davening while saying kaddish. And then, sometimes things are surreal.

[Editor's note: When I wrote this post, I included too much identifying information in telling a less than flattering story about someone, who's really a nice person, and I decided on further reflection to remove it.]

That same day, I realized that three months of saying kaddish had educated me on a lot of the technical rules about what is said and what is not said during the services. It's a little like being a member of a club and learning the club secrets. (I have this feeling even more so, because we daven nusach sefard at my shul, apparently because of some hasidic origins, and there are more than a few differences from when I davened nusach ashkenaz in the past.)

For example: During the repetition of the mincha amidah, I really wasn't paying attention. I was standing near the library shelves and browsing the Talmud. But I noticed -- out of the corner of my consciousness -- that the fellow leading mincha, who had just emerged from his shiva, was reciting the priestly blessing, which is not generally recited during mincha. As I was thinking, "Huh?" in my perceptive way, someone was whispering to him, and he skipped on to the next paragraph. Next, since maariv was rosh chodesh, we needed someone to lead davening who wasn't a mourner. Another technical rule I had picked up. The three non-mourners declined, but we found someone observing yahrzeit. Trouble is, when you observe yahrzeit, it might well mean you haven't been to daily minyan for a year, so this guy had to be prompted to start with shir ha-ma'alot, to skip baruch ha-shem l'olam amen v'amen, and to say the second bar'chu before the alenu -- all of which are nusach sefard things, and all of which I knew from recent experience.

So I was shaking my head and thinking that three months earlier I knew none of this and now my head was full of all those little rules. And I was a member of the club.

POSTSCRIPT: This morning, I arrived a few minutes late to our first shul softball game of the season. All games in the league start at 9:00, except for games involving at least one orthodox shul team, which begin at 9:15 on the theory that people may be late after davening. I raised the question with a team member who had said kaddish for his father a few years ago whether going to daily minyan helped his batting average. The conversation went on for a minute or so in a mock-serious way, without an answer. But, coincidence or not, I went 3-for-5 with two singles and a homer. That's about as many hits as I had all last year, and I can't remember the last homer I hit. It was probably in a board game.