Thursday, October 4, 2012

Minyan, group therapy, and the validation of being seen

Times of Israel by Rabbi Mendel Horowitz

Of those devout it is not unusual for men to gather, fedoras askew, seeking inspiration in the company of strangers. Thrice daily, observant men assemble for prayers and are routinely affected by the shared experience. The siddur is not lacking in appeals for personal growth; the process of supplication can be humbling, heartening, hardy. Still, as much as we talk to and about God, observant men are uncannily reserved about themselves. In a scheme that emphasizes ritual, it is easy to hide behind behavior.

A minyan is a curious thing. Ostensibly a forum for individual worship, much liturgical prose is composed in the plural, likening independent wants with communal needs. Restore us in repentance. Save us and we will be saved. Observant men pray not only with each other but for each other, regularly. Ideally, when joined in prayer dissimilar men concede similarities, the unaffiliated align. Stubbornly, differences tend to divide. There is a certain safety in praying for — and being prayed for by — others. In divine ears we each sound disharmonious. The “one for all, all for one” ideal increases our odds of being heard while protecting us from the humiliation of disclosure.

Compulsory prayers are by design both a declaration of praise and an expression of lacking. The Hebrew term for prayer – t’filah — connotes intervention, a petition for mystic involvement in the minutia of existence. Appealing for such intervention involves appreciating celestial supremacy and confessing human deficiency. Indeed, the Hebrew term for gratitude — hoda’ah — is of the same root as that of admission. While minyans can seem boisterous, the prayers they comprise can function as means for silent confessions and resolutions

1 comment :

  1. Amazing... I'm more inspired to go to minyan...


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