"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Talking During Tefillah: A Twofold Solution

Some people complain: “There are people who talk in Shul, both before davvenen and during davvenen. They come late and miss the Minyan, or leave before the Minyan is over, or don’t show up altogether. Or they davven too fast, or after the proper time, or skip parts of davvenen. Something must be done!”

All these complaints are valid, and our
Rebbeim, starting from the Alter Rebbe, screamed in great pain against this contempt for the Shul and davvenen in it. The question is how best to address the problem.

My understanding is that there are two types of solutions, both necessary:

An immediate solution. If someone is talking during davvenen (never mind a group of people), shush him, and if necessary, speak out in protest. “Silence is consent” (Yevamos 87b), and “Anyone who has the opportunity to protest [against sinning] and failed to do so, is termed wicked” (Shavuos 39b). Don’t allow this desecration of a holy place to continue. If he disturbs consistently, inform him unambiguously that unless he changes his ways, he is not welcome.

However, this solution is only symptomatic, for even if the serial talker leaves this
Shul, he’ll probably manage to find another one where no one will make a fuss if he talks. So how do we solve this?

A long-term solution. The core question is: why are people talking during davvenen? The answer is pretty obvious: they’re not the least bit interested in communing with the One Above. So instead of Shul being a time for introspection and spiritual growth, it is seen as an opportunity for a social gathering.

But this begs the question: why indeed aren’t they interested in
Hashem? Socializing is indeed pleasant, but isn’t He the One Who creates them and provides them with their every need? Are they not aware that they were created to serve Him, and that He schuduled the time of davvenen for special communication with Him?

To answer this, they talk for all kinds of reasons, but the root cause seems to be that despite their basic observance (of course, talking in
Shul is a total violation of Halacha, but what I mean is that they generally adhere to the “big three” of family purity, Shabbos, and eating only Kosher food) they have over time become coarse and materialistic, and almost completely lost touch with their true inner selves, the special Jewish soul, the Neshamah. How does one overcome the cumulative effect of years and years of an indulgent, materialistic lifestyle?

The solution is that they need to have experiences that will rekindle the hidden flame of their
Neshamah, so it can overcome the coarse lifestyle into which they have sunken. It should be noted that while the former solution is fairly easy and straightforward, the latter requires tremendous personal sacrifice, and will most likely be exceedingly difficult. However, it is still attainable.

In particular, studying
Chassidus, which discusses the greatness of Hashem and of the Neshamah, has the power to arouse the Neshamah from its slumber and slowly but surely inspire the Jew who has fallen to devote himself to serving Hashem scrupulously. Regardless whether it happens sooner or later, Chassidus is guaranteed to change the person (see here).

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