Judging Fast Daveners Favorably

By Todd Greenwald

I would like to share this D-Day story.

Growing up my family davened at an orthodox shul, although we were more traditional. Every Motzae Yom Kippur, the shul asked the same person to daven maariv. Why? Because he was fast!! Back then it was great. After I became frum it bothered me greatly. We should be davening that first maariv after Yom Kippur slowly with much concentration. One Yom Kippur I remarked to my father how it bothered me. He related the following story about this gentleman:

“It was D-Day and this gentleman was off the boat and in the water approaching the beach. People from his platoon were being killed all around him. As he was moving to shore he prayed to Hashem and said, G-d if you get me out of here alive, I will go to shul every day for the rest of my life. My father told me that the man was true to his word and attends shul everyday.”

I was amazed at such an extraordinary feat. I wondered how Hashem received this man’s Tfillos as he fullfilled his daily obligation for close to 60 years. Whether he davened fast or slow, he lived up to his committement until he recently passed away. I remember meeting him once in shul on a summer vacation and asked after his well being. He informed me that he had cancer and the chemo was rough but he still pushed himself to go to shul.

How quick I was to judge back then. May we always judge people favorably and be inspired by this man’s remarkable committment. Some D-Day inspiration – may it be in his merit.

8 comments on “Judging Fast Daveners Favorably

  1. I once heard the following observation. The person who takes more time than me in his or her Amidah is a Chanyuk and the person who takes less time is an am haaretx. It is a funny stereotype but still an urban myth that we should have dispensed with a long time ago. Some Gdolim were renowned for long tefilos and other Gdolim were renowned despite davening at what we would consider to be a fast pace.

  2. I can see a place to judge such a person favorably, but someone who davens at excessive speed should not be leading davening for a congregation at the amud. He is davening at an unsafe speed and it can, G-d forbid lead to a spiritual train wreck. He should not be allowed to endanger the davening of others. If he wants to endanger his own spirituality, perhaps we can’t stop him, but would you put a speeding driver at the wheel of a school bus with many people in it ?

  3. Thanks for sharing that very inspiring and thought provoking story. Just goes to show that you never know whom you are davening with – or next to…

  4. This doesn’t address the D-Day or personal aspects above, but the issue of davening speed:

    Some people concentrate better overall at a slow pace and and others at a fast pace.

    For an individual, I’d automatically rule out davening too quickly to pronounce all the words.

    For a shaliach tzibbur, there are additional pacing considerations, such as:

    Can a large enough percentage of the tzibbur keep pace and still concentrate?

    Does the Rav mind if the tzibbur davens at a faster pace than he does, in the total service or in certain parts of it such as the Amidah?

  5. A story like yours is justification for internet use!! Wow!! Like Reb Shlomo use to say, “You never know, you never know.”

    Very often we see others in shul and it seems to us like they are not giving proper attention to aspect of Avodas Hashem. There is usually another side to the story. Thanks for sharing yours.

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