Morning Minyan, 2018

Image: Me, giving the drash at morning minyan. Photo by Linda Burnett.

This morning I rolled out of bed fifteen minutes late. I pulled on some clothes and stumbled out the door, aware that I was leaving five minutes later than I’d planned. I was even grumpier than usual at that hour because I was responsible for the drash (lesson) and I was late.

I joined the commuters on I-580 and drive 11.6 miles into Oakland to attend the morning minyan at Temple Sinai. It’s a group of old friends who gather one day a week to study a little Torah and pray the morning service together. We start at 7:30 am and try to finish by 8 because there’s stuff to do and places to be.

I dropped this routine a couple of years ago because my meds left me too groggy to drive at that hour of the morning. But circumstances changed: the mass murder of Jews in Pittsburgh convinced me that I needed to get back to daily prayer, and not just by myself, so I have cut back the pain meds to attend minyan safely. I don’t like hurting this much, but I need the community and I need the prayer.

A reasonable person might ask, Why do such a thing? What does prayer said at top speed, hummed off key, possibly accomplish? Do I think it’s going to persuade the Deity to fix things?  

I know that God is not a magic vending machine.

I pray to remind myself of the person I want to become. I pray to remind myself of the community I want to build. 

Ma tovu, ohalecha Yakov, mishkanotecha Yisrael…

How good are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel!

Baruch Atah Adonai, rofe chol basar, umafli la’asot…

Blessed are You, Eternal, who heals all flesh, working miracles…

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, she’ansani Yisrael…

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of All-that-is, who has made me a Jew…

Ashrei yoshvei v’techa…

Happy the ones who dwell in Your house…

…haMa’avir la’aretz v’ladarim alecha b’rachamim…

 …in mercy, You bring light to the world and those who live upon it…

V’ha’er eineinu, b’Torahtecha, b’dabek libeinu b’mitzvotecha…

Enlighten our eyes with your Torah, focus our hearts on Your mitzvot…

Shma Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad.

Listen up! Israel: the Eternal is our God, the Eternal is One.

Emet v’yatziv, ahuv v’aviv, v’norah, v’adir, v’tov, v’yafeh…

True and enduring, beloved and precious, awesome, good and beautiful…

on and on…

prayer after prayer…

Some say, how can you possibly get anything out of prayers that you recite so quickly?

To that I can say, as long as I keep repeating them, they will be a part of me. I recite them in the hope that they will become a reflex, a way of life, a habit of thinking and behavior. I say them so that I will be ready to act each time I am called on to be the hands of God in this world.

I believe that there may have been miracles in history but that I dare not wait for miracles. I believe that I am here on this earth for a brief time, and that these prayers help me remember how to use that time well. I say them with a minyan because in that circle we are Jews together, responsible for one another, remembering together, learning together. 

More than ever, it’s a big, mean, nasty world out there. There is injustice in plenty, people so wounded that all they can do is scream. There is work to be done. There are hands to hold. There are letters to write, conversations to have, work to do. I need to have my wits about me.

So I pray.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at https://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Hamaqom | The Place in Berkeley, CA.

One thought on “Morning Minyan, 2018”

  1. For various reasons, I’m not able to make morning minyan, but I’ve kept up my little Jewish prayer and meditation ritual every day for the past few years (even when I’m not in the mood). In the privacy of my own room, I still have a sense I’m not alone for my ancestors are with me and, somewhere around the world there are souls saying The Sh’ma with me… I feel it helps open my heart, raise my spirits, and enables me to commit myself to making the world better.


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