Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Emunah Problems?

by Dov (See all authors)

"I have Emunah problems because of my acting out", and "I just don't daven right."

Ask the average yeshiva bochur or shul member to say the Sh'ma in front of a bunch of other yeshiva guys/shul members. Then ask one to say it in English !

Rav Avigdor Miller says an eitza to improve ourselves is to say many times a day all alone in private: "I love You, Hashem."

Why does this feel funny to many? Why are we OK with saying Sh'ma in shul with people around, but saying "I really, really love you, Hashem!" openly in shul would feel bizarre?

Why would it be met with strange stares were we to say Mizmor shir chanukas habayis l'Dovid in English in shul: hofachto misp'di l'machol li - You switched my mourning with a dance of forgivness for me! pitachtoh saki vat'azreini simcha - You opened up my sackcloth and girded me with the strength of joy!

I frequently do say that - quietly...I do not want people to think I am cracked or Christian (with my gartel?).... hmmm, Christian? Saying the pesukim in English sounds goyish ? People have said that to me. Well...

Our great-grandparents in Poland, Hungary, and Turkey used to call out in the middle of davening in Yiddish or Ladino: "Teiereh, Tatteh leben! Gevalt!"

So what is the meaning of all this? Where am I going with this stuff?

I believe the emunah problems do not come from the acting out. Rather, we act out with lust and porn because we already have emunah problems! And when I say "emunah problems" I do not mean that we do not believe in G-d. We do! But I mean that our emunah is pathetic. It is not enough for an addict to just 'believe'. Not nearly enough.

And why is it such taboo to say to other yidden, "I do believe in Hashem in theory - but not so much in practice." What's the problem, isn't it true? Do we really feel He is really here watching us? Do we behave the same as when there is another person in the room?

Yes, of course, we need to tow the party line, I know. To put on a good face for the rest of the world, especially the non-frum and the goyim.

But not addicts. We cannot afford that luxury. So why not say Adon Olam in English - not by reading the Artscroll - but by reading it and translating it and saying it in our own words. Maybe write it down first and then say it. Try saying it with another Jew around and see if it feels any different than saying it in Hebrew.

If it does - and even feels very awkward, even embarrassing - I submit that the one embarrassed may not believe what he is saying as much as he always thought he did while he was belting it out in Hebrew.

For those who stick to their guns and say "of course it's awkward - it is goyish!"...well, I really have nothing to say to you, but "Good luck. When you want to really express yourself to your wife, do you say "I love you" in Hebrew? When you are really mad at your kids, do you yell at them in Hebrew? I submit that we can only express our gut feelings - our real feelings - in our mother tongue.

So if tefillah is avodah shebaleiv , then where do we get the idea that we can ever really daven the way it is meant to be in Hebrew ?

Now I am not saying we are not yotzei Sh'moneh esrei if we say it in Hebrew. I am just saying that to accomplish the realness of a relationship with your very own real G-d, you cannot be speaking to Him in Hebrew - unless you are an natural Israeli. So quit the games, and speak some of the precious parts of davening in English. The parts you feel directly address your greatest challenges. Speak with a Rov if you have halachik issues with the technical aspects of this, but remember that whatever anyone says, in your last dying moments when the entire game is over and you really need to express yourself in words to your one and only G-d... you will surely say it in the language that comes most naturally to you.

So is your sobriety and sanity as important as you say it is? Then why not ask for it right now like you really mean it and need it? Training with a few small portions of davening (that are mutar) in your mother tongue is a fine place to start.

Do you really try to keep the six constant mitzvos? So it should feel great to get really private a few times every day and say to Hashem: "I love You. I am in awe of you. And I could use a lot more of both, so please help me."

You may find it an entirely different experience. And your recovery will start to progress a bit, too.