I saw this slogan on a bus while walking to work. Often, you don’t find interesting slogans like this on a bus. Where did the quote come from? You might be surprised if I tell you it’s from a TV show. The TV show is called ‘Daybreak’ and recently premiered on. The premise of the show is that the main character is framed for a murder and his family is in danger. Every morning he wakes up and has to repeat the same day and has to find out who framed him for the murder and he has to keep his family safe. Until he solves the mystery, the day will keep repeating itself.Upon further reflection, this quote is a great way to approach tefilla. After almost 5 years of taking classes at various Jewish outreach groups in the city, I made some breakthroughs this year and decided it was time to take some steps towards becoming more observant than in previous years when I had balked at such an idea (perhaps this will be the subject of a future post). One of the things I did was go to Israel for two weeks in July and learn at She’arim, one of the wonderful womens’ seminaries in Jerusalem. It was a transformative two weeks and the only regret I have was that I wished I had stayed a little longer. After coming back from Israel, I started davening twice a day. Before Israel (BI), I prayed for 15-20 minutes in the morning, semi-rushed because I slept in until 8:00, sometimes 8:15 and I needed to be at work at 9:00. After Israel (AI), I find myself getting up at 7:20-7:30, and davening for 30-40 minutes (my mornings are so much calmer now) and also davening Mincha.
There are times when I have many things on my mind when I daven, I’ll find myself thinking about mundane things like what I will have for dinner or bills I have to pay. When I initially started davening, it was easier to stay focused on the prayers because they were so new to me. After weeks and months of saying the prayers, davening started to become rote. It resembles starting an exercise program and after a few weeks you plateau and you need to shake things up, you need to be re-inspired. How do we get things right? I had the privilege recently of seeing Rabbi David Aaron of Isralight give a seminar on Tefila. The first part of the seminar focused on what tefilla really is, how we transform ourselves when we daven. Do the words that we say from the siddur really reflect what we want and need in our lives or are they just words that we mindlessly say? The second part of the seminar focused on the first blessing in the Amidah; we affirm that our relationship with Hashem dates back to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and that Hashem cares about us and is involved in our lives. This blessing is the basis for the 18 blessings that come after it. In addition to this seminar, I bought “Praying with Fire” at a book fair and I find that the daily five minute lessons are a great way to start off the morning. I focus on a particular concept for that day and I keep that theme in my mind when I daven.
Every morning, we thank G-d for letting us wake up to see another day. We get another chance to fulfill our potential for the day, to use our time productively. We can find inspiration from the most unlikely place, even from a sign on a city bus.