I really admire the people around the blogosphere who are very zen this time of year. They have kids and focus their energies on them. They’re not snarky and bitter and missing their old life.
I am not that person.
I miss being in synagogue for more than five minutes. I miss praying from a prayerbook. I am not one who has a rich inner spiritual life, so I need prompting–the words and signs and symbolic movements. Praying in a group, with melodies and responsive songs, meant a lot to me as I became increasingly more religious during college.
I’ve been a part of prayer services in some beautiful places all over Israel, usually with Pardes, where I studied for two years.
I used to pray more. A lot more. Once Miss M arrived I understood, in a single overwhelming rush, why, according to Jewish law, women do not have the same kind of obligations for prayer (frequency or gathering together in a group) that men do. Kids take time and energy. Their needs keep their caretakers rooted in “gashmius” (the physical world).
During most of the year I am willing to concede to their inability to keep quiet in synagogue–though Miss M, who is slowly learning to read in Hebrew, now has a sudden interest in sitting next to Taxman and following along. I stay at home, playing games and coaxing them into clothes and then shepherding them to tefilat yeladim (children’s services) and handing out snacks.
But Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are different. Weighty. You are supposed to be getting your ducks in a row for an entire year. (Aside to the Israelis: Kind of like all the post-dated checks.) There is serious synagogue time–2-3 times longer than regular Shabbat services–and cause for serious introspection.
It is hard, I mentioned to Gila on the first day of Rosh Hashana, to properly pray for your very soul when you’re worried about how much ruckus your four-year-old is making with his vehicles in the aisles.
There were women there, of course, who seemed to ignore all the ruckus–from their children, from others’ children–and they were going about the serious business of mindful prayer.
I can’t do it.
I suppose one day my children will be able to either be trusted not to run into the street and/or daven themselves, and I will be able to sit in my seat with an open prayerbook in front of me, keeping pace with the congregation and listening to my husband leading the service (Shacharit for about four years running now; I’ve heard maybe a total of 20 minutes).
I’m just wondering if I will be able to get the praying mojo back. I am not in good spiritual shape any more.