The 7 Minute Solution

In the moments that we aspire to take our davening seriously, we are often confronted with the fact that davening with a minyan requires compromises as to the speed of the davening.

What is perplexing is that the davening seems to speed up in the wrong places. Brachos are said at a relatively slow pace, then things pick up some speed in Pesukei D’Zimra and then between Borechu and the start of Shomeneh Esrai the speeds sometimes approach that of the Japanese Bullet trains.

It’s clearly the work of the Yetzer Hora as he wants us to go fast as we enter Shema and Shomoneh Esrai, so that we don’t have the piece of mind to even attempt to say the six words of the Shema and the first paragraph of Shomoneh Esrai with kavanna.

If you try to expand the time of your minyan you’re usually fighting a losing battle as people have to get to work and are generally on tight schedules. So let me propose instead trying to institute the 7 minute solution. Try to establish that between Borechu and the start of Shomoneh Esrai there is 7 minutes of elapsed time. That will enable you to say the words at a reasonably slow enough pace to have the piece of mind to pause for a few seconds before Shema and Shomoneh Esrai to catch some kavanna.

Your minyan is probably taking between 5-6 minutes for that stretch now so you only have to reallocate 1-2 minutes from the other parts of davening. If you want to davening Berachos and Pesukei D’Zimra slower you can get to shul earlier. And you can daven Shomoneh Esrai as slow as you want and use Shomeah K’onah to listen quietly to the Sheliach Tzibbur to fulfill your Kedusha requirements. You can also try to institute the 7 minute solution at Maariv when there is a little less time pressure.

Talk to your Rav or Gabbai and see if you can convince them that this makes sense. Let us know if you meet any success.

10 comments on “The 7 Minute Solution

  1. I once heard R Z Leff offer the following observation about Kavanah , Tefillah , Shemiras HaMitzvos and our far more highly attuned sense of awareness to these issues during the Yamim Noraim than during the year. From Elul thru Hoshana Rabbah, we act as if we are in a Divine Army of sorts because we are preparing for a war and/or a trial. Even though we know that we won’t be able to maintain ourselves at this level all year round, we want to prepare ourselves for the war in the same way that every soldier learns how to shoot a rifle, even if they never see the front lines. However, during the year, most of us have to work, run to work or drive a car pool or some other less seemingly spiritual activity. Therefore, while our kavanah definitely suffers, we can and should remember that davening on a daily basis is considered the substitute for one of greatest karbanos-the Karban Tamid. That steady committment has to keep us going until Elul .

  2. A 20-25 minute mizmor to Shomoneh Esrai and a 45 minute total is a very nice respectful davening and probably incorporates the 7-minute solution.

    However, I recently davened at a 50 minute T,W,F Shacharis and they only had 6 minutes for the Borechu to Shomoneh Esrai stretch. That extra minute makes a big difference.

    For what it’s worth at the Daf Yomi Siyum HaShas at Madison Square Garden, the Maariv there was 9 1/2 minutes from Borechu to Shomoneh Esrai.

  3. The easiest solution for the individual: Just start early.

    Almost every regular minyan has an exact time they reach Shomeneh Esrei. All you have to do is start Shomeneh Esrei with them to fulfill the requirement of tefillah b’tzibbur.

    For many years I simply started davening ten minutes before the tzibbur, and joined them at Shemoneh Esrei. The Artscroll Siddur (page 85) explains clearly what you may answer while you’re in the blessings of Shema or Shema (which is where you’ll be when they say Barchu).

    Our neighborhood minyan factory has a rule that every shacharis minyan must take between 20-25 minutes from “mizmor shir” or “hodu” until shemoneh esrei. As a result, minyanim are usually 45 minutes on a non-Torah reading weekday.

    In essence, I think this incorporates your 7-minute solution, Mark.

  4. Some comments:

    I have used the Mishnah Berurah to help me understand what I can skip and get back to later in order to say Shema and Shomoneh Esrai with the tzibor.

    I also switch to English when I’m in trouble.

  5. I often had this discussion and it often comes down to habits and car pools. We all have habits (and car pools) that we need to improve upon.

    As far as the rushing out, we do have to take into account the role of Hishtadlus (effort).

  6. One thing that bothers me. I understand that people have work, and other things to rush off to. But what about on days like sunday? most people dont work, so the davening should be longer? no? I’m sure that everyone is just used to davening fast but its just something to think about? Personally, i think davening is the most important part of my day. I dont want to sound naive, but its silly to think that we have to rush of to work when everything in our lives are controlled by Hakodosh Baruch Hu, which is who we are rushing out on?

  7. This topic is one which hits home for me. Outside of the BT yeshiva’s here in Monsey, who have a full 1-hour Shacharis, I have yet to find another local minyan where Shacharis
    is any longer than 30-40 minutes (maybe a tad longer on Mon/Thur). Some I’ve tried were 30 minutes from birchas hashachar to Aleinu. Soup to Nuts, the whole deal in 30 minutes! It really shocked me at first, but I’ve come to the realization that it’s realilty for many commuting Yidden. On Shabbos, I start psukei dzimra 15 minutes before davening in shul even begins. This puts me at Nishmas right along with everyone else. I don’t believe that most folks suffer from ADD or have little control over their thoughts wondering if they don’t get their davening finished at supersonic speeds. When I hear someone davening before the tzibur sounding more like an auctioneer than anything else, I can’t help but roll my eyes and think “Would this guy speak to his clients/customers like that…much less a high-ranking official or a Rav? It sure is perplexing…

  8. I think it’s possible to meet all reasonable time constraints by saying each word and maintaining a steadier pace through the entire servioe. For me, at least, too slow a shemoneh esreh lets my mind wander.

  9. Bob, The solution proposed a practical one and not necessarily an ideal one. Many morning minyanim are predicated on starting and ending times. Within those given constraints, this idea can possibly improve the most important stretch in davening.

  10. If we and the shaliach tzibbur would daven at a pace that would allow us to pronounce all of each word, that in itself would make reflection on the words possible. No stopwatch is needed. Some minyanim might still run slower or faster than others, but within a tolerable speed range.

    There are built-in difficulties, though, when people with very different Hebrew reading capabilities are part of the same minyan.

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