Monday, March 6, 2017

The Actual Requirement

It's really not my intent to talk smack about my Bais Yaakov. Yet so many years later I'm still untangling myself from the binding knots of misinformation. 

Like what a woman is required to daven.
Maurice Minkowski
For years I nourished—and that's on me—an "all or nothing" approach to prayer; for years, on weekdays, I only managed Birchas HaShachar, since if I only had a few spare minutes (as opposed to thirty) I believed that saying something as opposed to all was "no good." 

It was only in the last couple of years I recognized my folly, and I made an effort to ram in what I could—at least birchas Sh'ma, Sh'ma, and Shmoneh Esrei—but feeling like a sub-par Yid in the process. 

And then I hear this shiur

How could us gals have been so misinformed? Ashkenazi women are only required to say Birchas HaShachar, Sh'ma and Shmoneh Esrei. Zeh hu. Not even P'sukei D'Zimra. 

In the old country, mothers would begin davening on Shabbos from Nishmas. I must shamefully admit that when I first heard this, I smugly thought how "they didn't know better," when, er, they knew far better than me, with my official Jewish education. 

I had learned from the family guru about "skipping"—that if, say, arriving late to shul, it is more important to daven with the tzibbur as opposed to starting from the beginning (while everyone is answering Kedusha). Yet as soon as leining began, I would catch up there. But it would seem that I don't have the requirement to say P'Sukei D'Zimra, so it would be more important for me to listen by leining. 

Of course I shlep around Jewish guilt baggage, what I could do better, how I messed up . . . and all this time, I was beating myself up for something I didn't even do wrong. 

When you know better . . . 


Some Poems Don't Rhyme said...

Brachos, shema, shmoneh esrei are *required* for a female in the same way that a male can fulfill his obligation for limud torah by reciting krias shema. I think my seminary teacher called this a starvation diet. You can sustain yourself on it, but why should you deprive yourself.

You're right, we feel bad for things we aren't even obligated to do because we've been indoctrinated in the hopes that we follow in certain path. It's scary, because we do come out with this all or nothing attitude. The kid who was taught that reading a newspaper is assur can end up eating on Yom Kippur if he succumbs to checking the paper for sports scores. He was taught that they were equivalent.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever notice that words like: Bais Yaakov, Birchas HaShachar, Sh'ma, Shmoneh Esrei, P'sukei D'Zimra, Nishmas, tzibbur, Kedusha are all Hebrew, but the word leining is Yiddish?

For the sake of consistency you should use the Hebrew equivalent of leining, which is Kriyas HaToiruh.

Princess Lea said...

SPDR: Of course we should strive to do more, but if circumstances are difficult, why beat oneself up?

I've always been of the opinion that children must be taught, with perfect clarity, the difference between halacha, minhag, and chumra. Then they can make educated decisions.