Friday, October 2, 2015

For the Scoffer

From my perch in the women's section, I can observe quite a lot, gentlemen; that lacy curtain is like a one-way mirror.
There is one fellow who spends davening browsing the room for another chatty soul, bouncing from tallis to tallis. This time, his eyes brighten as he thinks he has found a willing conversant, close to his age, too! He scurries up to him, and begins to yammer, a smirk distorting his face. 

However, it is in middle of Kaddish. He knows better, I'm sure, but hasn't managed to overcome that challenge just yet. 

But his mark has. Nodding politely while remaining mute, he fiercely answers the "Amein"s and "Brich hu"s. After last "Amein," he pointedly turns to the now somewhat-deflated interloper with "Now I am available" body language. The talker slinks away.

Years ago I had heard Rabbi Mordechai Becher speaking on the topic of kiruv. According to Rabbi Moshe Shapiro: "Just don't get in Hashem's way." 

After the Yomim Noraim, there are many around us who try to do better. But as Rabbi Wein once pointed out, their peers often don't let them. If they come to shul on time, on come the sneers. "Oh, your wife kicked you out of bed?" For many, that sort of mocking feedback cannot be carelessly ignored, and, disheartened, they slip back into their old bad habits.   

"Repression of the Sublime," as seen by Rabbi Weinreb. We know we can do better, but we deny it, with the help of the scoffer—the external scoffer and the internal scoffer.

Keep coming to shul on time; keep silent during Kaddish. The idiots will shut up soon enough, and may even copy your example, quicker then you think. For they will have been reminded they are capable of the sublime, and that no amount of scoffing can shift it.  


Daniel Saunders said...

Very true. My mental health makes it difficult for me to get to shul early (or at all) much of the time, much to my frustration as davening and punctuality are very important to me; during periods when I feel better and try harder, the mockery ("Oh, surprised to see you so early!") is hard to bear, especially as I don't deliberately sleep in, I'm ill.

There's a wonderful Midrash similar to your example, although making a somewhat different point. It says that if Moshe Rabbeinu would leave his tent early in the morning, the Bnei Yisrael would say, "Look, he had an argument with his wife!" But if he left late, they would say, "Oh, he's been devising plots against us!" I guess sometimes you just have accept that you can't win and do the right thing regardless.

Mr. Cohen said...

How French Police Handle Anti-Jewish Attacks

Judge after judge told him [Sammy Ghozlan,
a 72-year-old retired Paris police commissioner]:

“There is no anti-Semitism charge applicable unless someone dies.”

SOURCE: New Dangers for the Jews of Paris
by Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair magazine, August 2015, page 114

Princess Lea said...

DS: Exactly! It is very difficult to do what works for you when everyone else is making comments. So there comes a time when one says, "Enough! I am for me!"