Torah Tuesdays

Torah Tuesdays: Dusting off my Siddur

Ooo – my first Torah Tuesdays post since the move!  I’m excited about this.

Way back when, in the single-me days (okay, it really wasn’t that long ago), I was pretty great at davening twice a day.  So great, in fact, that when I heard mommies of little kids comment on how they hadn’t davened from a siddur in ages, I would think to myself,

“Wow, that will never be me.”

Right.

Fast forward to, well, now, and I’m both laughing and cringing at my naiveté (not to mention my judgment, but, hey, it’s so easy to have strong opinions based on zero experience. . . ).  Let’s just say that the status quo for my davening is more along the lines of “in my own words” than “in the words of the sages.”  While I know that it’s totally acceptable to daven outside of the pages of the prayerbook, I really miss it. 

I like connecting to words written by great men, words that I know are helping connect me to really essential concepts of Judaism, and words that remind me of what I can strive to be.

There’s the first bracha, which reminds me that whatever is happening, it’s coming from Hashem, and how about the fourth bracha, which reminds me that I should ask for the ability to use my common sense and intuition.  Then there’s the bracha which asks for our eyes to be able to witness the return to Zion with compassion, and, one of my personal favorites,  the bracha for peace, reminding me that we were given a love of kindness, righteousness, blessing, compassion, life and peace.

That’s good stuff.

I find it really grounding to connect through these words and to have these concepts brought to the forefront of my mind.

Somewhere in the last two-and-a-half years, though, davening from a siddur  fell right off my priority list.  While I’ve become somewhat complacent about it, I have had more than a few twinges of remorse.

True, I have two little ones who need me, and are sometimes quite insistent about having my Full Attention.  Taking care of my kids is a totally valid reason to not pick up the siddur, and I’m cool with that.

Photograph,early 1900's,by one of the American...
That used to be me! Davening by the wall, I mean.

However, in the interest of intellectual honestsy, it’s not always “taking care of the kids” which is keeping me from davening.  There’s that first coffee of the day (’cause I do need it).  And popping on the computer to check Facebook (something really important could be happening!!!!!).  Or that load of laundry, or those toys which could be picked up, or a shopping list which needs to be made. . . you get the picture.

In the midst of all the hubbub of my life, one thought which keeps popping up is that I want my kids to see me davening.  From a siddur. Why?  I know that kids emulate what they see, and I want them to see me having a relationship with Hashem.

In my mind, that’s what I want.  In reality, however, I’ve been far from that role model.

In the gemara, it says that when you change your place, you change your mazel.  So I figured that since I’m in a new place, I have a new davening mazel.  With a big bli neder, I’m trying to make it more of a priority to daven from a siddur in the morning.

That’s right.  I’m going for it.

So far, I’ve been able to squeeze in a Shacharis while the boys have been entertaining each other, or eating breakfast, or while the baby is napping and the toddler is somewhat occupied.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing (for instance, there was the time when my toddler started asking me for something when I was only on the third bracha.  He’s pretty persistant, so it was a refrain throughout most of the davening), and my kavanna definitely needs some work, but overall, it’s been very encouraging.  B”H.

What’s the point of this long and somewhat rambling post?  Basically, if there are areas in your life where you feel like you would like to improve, but through circumstance (and perhaps entropy), you feel like you’re in a rut, you can still improve.  It might be as simple as re-prioritizing, or you may need to give yourself more of an incentive (like a reward chart – gold stars!!).  Whichever it may be, if I can daven from a siddur, anything is possible.

———

image from Wikipedia

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14 thoughts on “Torah Tuesdays: Dusting off my Siddur

  1. I hear ya, GF. When I was in seminary I was so proud of my ability to daven. I always said that the most important thing in chinuch is for your kids to see you davening. I’m embarassed to tell you the last time I davened with a siddur now that I have a crazy toddling baby. But I think the key here is that we recognize that we want it, and that we need to strive for it. Hashem will help.

  2. Great post Rivki. While I can’t personally relate to the davening from a siddur thing, I tend to be an all or nothing kind of gal. If I can’t do something all the way, I just won’t do it (like meditating, or even practicing for my weekly Hebrew class). I’m now inspired to give it my half (instead of my all) if that’s all I got!

  3. I agree that it is a great post. I suppose that when you mention squeezing in a Shaharit, you mean the most important part of the morning prayer; not the whole thing.

  4. Great post Rivki. I’m just getting back into it after this babes came along. Thanks to God for the wonderful obstacles to prayer.

  5. Yes, it’s so true. It’s good for your kids to see you davening.

    I wish I could say the same but at this point, as a full time working mom of two little ones, I make it an effort to daven the brachos-and that’s good enough for me right now. It’s part of my schedule and my son sees me with a siddur (and insists on davening along with his own real siddur too!) – but I can’t do more than the brachos.

    It was quite refreshing to get to daven a full tefillah when I took a weekend off from work to go to my friend’s wedding. My son was busy playing, my daughter was sleeping – so I got to daven the entire thing! I haven’t done that in who-knows-how-long but it felt SO good to reconnect!!

    I really respect you for taking this big step and hope you continue to be the amazing role model you are for your precious children!

  6. Wow. Good for you! I’ve recently come to feel guilty about my davening habits as well. I started off like you, saying it’s not that hard to daven from a siddur with a baby, and it’s SUCH good chinuch, so I thought it would stay at the top of my priority list. The baby learned to walk, learned to ask for things, learned to climb on things if she waited too long, and davening with a siddur just kinda… stopped. Plus I work in the mornings and, between packing lunches, getting dressed and getting into the car, sometimes there’s just no time to daven before I get there. This summer I’ve been really working on it, especially now that my daughter’s old enough to understand “Mommy busy”. She even has her own stuffed Torah she likes to hold when I daven next to her, and we usually start off with some kid’s songs until she gets bored and wanders off. Still don’t get in more than the basics, but it’s a start.

    Also, I love telling her, when my husband’s at shul, that he’s davening also. I’m sure it’s so good for her to hear.

    But it’s really great to see that I’m not alone in this, and it doesn’t make me a “bad” Jewish woman or anything. Thanks for that!

  7. Fantastic post Rivki! Also just wanted to say on a more personal level that I think it is so wonderful that you are taking the time to access your priorities and make changes in order to meet those needs in your life.

  8. I love this post. I am not there yet, but you give me hope for when we get there – I can have a little bit of my own Jewish space – even if it’s just the brachot as a little bit of chinuch! All the best, and I hope the unpacking is going well!

  9. Wow, everyone, thanks for the fantastic comments!

    I wanted to mention that if I weren’t a SAHM right now, I highly, highly doubt that I would be able to take on this part of the avodah.

    Also, that however it is that we develop our relationship with Hashem, be it through pointing out the miracles in nature, talking to Him throughout the day, saying Tehillim, or saying “L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh” when we’re preparing our Shabbos food, I think the point is to have a relationship with Hashem, and if we have that, it’s good chinuch for our kiddos. :)

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