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Friday, September 03, 2004

Priorities

I'm trying to figure out what takes the highest priority:

Learning before Davening
Going to the Mikvah
Filling out a Minyan so someone can say Kaddish

I wish I could say that I was the one battling to complete all three, but I can only seem to get one of those done. I'm actually more interested in what the priority should be for other people.

Confused? I'll try to clarify.
My profession is one which requires me to be at one or more hospitals pretty early in the morning, before getting to my office to start my real work. About a year ago, we started a 5:45am "Working Man's" Minyan at our Shul. Which is great, because it's the first time I've been able to make a weekday Minyan in...well at least during the lifetime of my last couple of kids. The Davening is still a little slow for me, which means I usually have to cut out early, but I can catch Kedusha usually, unless my hospital load is unusually heavy.

The problem is that the Minyan has always been poorly attended. Not that many people have to be at work as early as me, and I think a lot of the regulars do it for other reasons, like to allow our mourner to say Kaddish, or to be more stringent and allow more time for learning or other things before work. But bottom line is that we often are sitting there with 8 people and can't do Barchu.

I understand that we can't expect that people who don't have to be up that early should come in just for the Minyan. My problem is that I often see other people in the Shul anyway who are not helping the Minyan. Some are sitting and learning alone. Others are in Chevrusa. Others are on their way down to the Mikvah. And others are just wandering around, "preparing" for Davening in the main Minyan, which starts at 6:45. We often try to drag a few in so we can keep going, but they often give us a hard time about it, like it's not their fault that we can't make our Minyan and we shouldn't bother them.

I can totally understand their point of view. They're there early because they've made a commitment to do something extra before davening, like learning or going to Mikvah, or to get in the proper spiritual state to pray with feeling. And we're trying to hijack them into our Minyan.

But it's not like there are 3 other Minyanim happening all at the same time, and we're just another "me too" Minyan. Some of us would not be able to Daven with a Minyan without this one. I would think that allowing someone like me to be at a Minyan, or the mourner to say Kaddish, would take precedence over any other personal commitments.

Maybe I've been listening to "Minyan Man" for too long, but imagine if the guy in that song said, "I'd like to help be the tenth guy at your Minyan, but I made a commitment to learn a Blatt instead."

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