April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

On Davening and Its Improvement

I would like to wholeheartedly thank Ira Buckman for his article in the January 21 issue (“A Proposal to Improve Our Davening”), in which he notes a persistent issue in many of our minyanim, proposes a potential way to mitigate this issue, and concludes by re-emphasizing the role of the rabbanim in decisions of this nature.

Nevertheless, I must admit some degree of confusion as to how his proposal is meant to help in this regard. Mr. Buckman suggests that the chazan not call out the end of each paragraph, in order to allow each individual to daven Pesukei D’Zimra at their own pace, skipping toward the end as necessary. However, it would appear to me that, in the unfortunate event that someone does have to skip in order to proceed at a pace that allows them to enunciate the words properly, they can do this just as well if the chazan is reciting the end of each paragraph as is done currently. Furthermore, given that there are rules regarding the priority of which paragraphs to skip if necessary, the current approach provides people with a better sense of how to pace themselves so that they can avoid having to skip the more critical parts.

Some alternative proposals: First, it can be noted that there is no requirement to begin Baruch She’amar with the chazan; one can come early and begin beforehand in order to ensure there is enough time to say everything properly and still be caught up when necessary.

Of course, this assumes that the individual at a minyan knows ahead of time what pacing it will have. This thus suggests another proposal: Mr. Buckman points out that many minyanim have scheduled end times. If this is made official and extended to also providing the times for “key” points in the davening (most notably Yishtabach and Ga’al Yisrael), this can help ensure that people (including visitors who may not be familiar with the shuls) can find a shul whose speed will fulfill their needs. It likewise will help ensure that people are not blindsided by an unexpectedly fast chazan.

The third, and final, proposal to resolve this issue is based on the fact that the speed of davening typically represents the desire of the shul’s membership; even when the end time is restricted by work hours, the start time has no such restriction. Thus, if it is difficult for many people to daven clearly at the speed of the minyan, it may be time to begin (under the leadership of the rabbanim) a program to educate people regarding the importance of both saying every word clearly and of being caught up with the chazan at the beginning of the silent Shemoneh Esrei. This will then encourage the formation of minyanim that can accommodate those unable to daven properly at the current speeds.

Yitzhak Kornbluth
Teaneck
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