There’s good reason not to talk during davening

There’s good reason not to talk during davening

By Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

Our shtiebel is proud to have at its door a display box that holds cards which are free to take. The cards are colorful and eye-catching; they are the perfect size to use for bookmarks. They each have a message, which is easy to read and understand, such as “Don’t talk during davening!” This is obviously pertinent to anyone coming to shul to daven.

 

At this point I sense you are eager to move on to the next feature in this paper. I fully understand that no one wants to read mussar, and even more, they don’t want to be told about not talking in shul. We have all heard it, and –well- it is getting a bit tedious. The message is as old as the hills and yet here is Rubin, obviously about to waste his ink, rabbiting on about it again.

 

I just want to crave your indulgence for a moment, as I have something to share that you may not have heard before, and it just may make a difference. The Yismach Yisroel of Alexander ztl cites a medrash that tells us, “The prayer of Maariv has no set time and one can daven it till the light of the morning star.” This medrash, I should add, is not to be taken as a halachic ruling. He explains that the word Maariv is derived from the root ariv which connotes being confused and upset. Therefore, says the Rebbe, when a Yied finds himself in a difficult place, feeling lost and hopeless, with his head filled with mixed emotions, he should daven till the darkness dissipates and the light of Hashem’s illumination refreshes his soul. The Rebbe goes on to say that whatever difficulties we face, if we daven hard without losing hope, Hashem will show His mercy on us and bring us His light.  He further explains that this is hinted at when we read in the Torah (Parshas Tzav) that the korban Olah stays on the flame of the Mizbe’ach all night until the morning.

 

Our young will have no idea what warmth in davening means if all they see is their parents gabbling their way through the tefillos”

 

When we find ourselves living in the darkness of emotional turmoil, it is as if night surrounds us. We should pray “ad haboker” till it becomes “light” within our hearts. This will be like the fire of the Mizbe’ach bringing warmth and hope even in our moments of despair.

 

Davening is not some sterile exercise that is done with little thought or understanding. Tefillah is the vehicle of our plea to Hashem. It is the analogue of the Mizbe’ach with its sacrifices.

 

We are all broken in so many different ways; the world is complicated, and many of us feel bewildered at one point or another. The Rebbe cries out that we should daven and daven again till Hashem’s light penetrates the darkness. We can only conquer the confusion with heartfelt prayer. This is the eternal gift Hashem has granted us.

 

Talking during davening? How foolish is this, how soul-distracting. How can one spend the precious moments in shul wasting time with mere words of nothingness?

 

You can turn the page now if you feel like it, but please, hear this plea from an older Yied who witnessed our unique leaders of the last generation. Those Jews who emerged from the hell of the Churban taught us to daven with the fire of the sacrifices they had made on the Mizbe’ach of Auschwitz.

 

Our young will have no idea what warmth in davening means if all they see is their parents gabbling their way through the tefillos.

 

I know we have all heard this before, and it has been said in so many ways. The greatest Yetzer Hora is the one that seeks to disturb our prayers, simply because without them we are lost.

Let’s gather our wits now, dedicate ourselves to making shul a real experience of deveikus with Hashem. There is light out there, we just need to truly ask.


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