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Thought for the Day: Davening k'Vaskin Instead of k'Normal

When people discuss my davening schedule, the conversation is something like, "I know what you do, but normal people ..."  I don't mind; having grown up Jewish in a non-Jewish neighborhood (then non-Jewish in a Jewish shul :) ), I am used to the idea of people considering my not "normal".  However, I have noticed that everyone who davens k'vasikin gets contrasted to "normal" people.  We actually refer to those who daven k'vasikin on a daily basis as "regulars", whereas those who join us for whatever reason on an occasional basis are simply, "the others".  I wondered what "normal" people do, so I did a little research.  I here present my findings, first halachic then hashkafic.  To be as PC as possible, I'll refer to the two groups as "regulars" (our label for ourselves) and "normal" (the word the others use to refer to themselves).

The Shulchan Aruch, OC 156 says that a person should make his davening and torah learning the main thing, and then fit his parnassa activities around that.  During the winter, us regulars can be in davening as late 8:00 AM (or even a bit later on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan).  I have had to tell my coworkers not to schedule meetings before 9:30AM in the winter if they want me there.  Us regulars do not start davening early to finish by a certain time.  Normal people can choose an earlier minyan when they want to get going early; so I guess they have other ways of making their plans secondary to HaShem's.

Regulars never have to worry about putting on tallis and t'fillin during the middle of davening.  Nor do we have to worry about saying k'rias sh'ma too early; we always say k'rias sh'ma about four minutes before sunrise.  So I guess normal people have more worries.

OC 231 says that one should make all his actions l'sheim shamayim.  During the winter we daven when normal people are going off to work, but during the summer we are davening when normal people are sleeping; especially on Shabbos.  I think it is part of HaShem's Sense of Humor to make sunset later just when sunrise is getting earlier.  We are not getting up so early because it is convenient, but because HaShem says that's the best time to daven.

OC 5 says that brachos should be said with kavana.  The Mishna Brura explains that brachos should not just be said out of habit.  We change the time of davening almost every day (and always by a different amount), which keeps us off balance just enough that it's never habitual.  Normal people daven the same time every weekday and the same time every Shabbos.  So I guess normal people have to find other ways to keep themselves from falling into habit patterns.

Finally, I have noticed that normal people tend to go to shuls where everyone wears the same kind of hat that they do.  Black hats here, kipa s'ruga here, velvet yarmulkas without hats here, etc.  Us regulars have all sorts of hats.  Us regulars wear all sorts of hats and come from all sorts of hashkafos.  There is only one point on which there is unanimous agreement among us regulars: davening is important.


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