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Friday, December 15, 2006

No Tachanun

I may have let it slip in the pages of this blog over the past few years that I daven (pray) at an early minyan (prayer group) that ostensibly starts at 5:45 every morning. You may even recall that after years of being, well shall we say...less than dedicated...to showing up consistently and on time, I rededicated myself in full force after the death of my father this spring. That's because one of my obligations as a mourner is to say the Kaddish and lead the davening every day.

One of the things I love about this minyan, aside from the fact that it is slightly faster than the other minyanim, is the cast of characters. Perhaps my favorite is the Rabbi who stands in the back of the room and implores me, every day, to skip tachanun.

Tachanun is a part of the service which means supplication and it is not infrequently skipped for various legitimate and some questionable reasons. There are different customs. The one thing that seems to be universal is that, whenever the ruling comes down that tachanun is to be skipped, there is near unanimous rejoicing. I even managed to find this essay on "Why We Hate Tachanun."

To the various reasons discussed there, I will add my own, which is that I hate tachanun because it adds between 5 and 10 minutes (depending on the day) to my already overbooked early a.m. schedule. To put it simply: the days that we skip tachanun are the days that I am more likely to get to work on time.

Which is why it is now so complicated that we have one guy in the back urging me to skip tachanun while the rest of the minyan thinks we should say it. Because as the chazzan, I am the final arbiter of whether it is GO or NO-GO. I feel like I'm in that scene in Animal House where I have the good angel on one shoulder and the bad one on the other. And I kinda prefer the bad one.

I really dislike being in the middle of this conflict. The shul doesn't help, because as a Chassidishe place they skip tachanun frequently to commemorate the yahrtzeits of rebbes whose names I can't even pronounce much less recognize. And they never say tachanun at all by mincha. So who am I to say that tachanun should be said on one guy's yahrtzeit and not another's?

It's getting to be kind of a joke around the community. "No Tachanun" is becoming a generic "Mazel Tov."

The Cohen's had a baby boy! No Tachanun!
The Shapiro's kid is engaged! No Tachanun!
Happy St. Patrick's Day! No Tachanun!
I think my boss is going to give me a raise! No Tachanun!
We have Heros to watch tonight on the TiVo! No Tachanun!

You get the gist.

I joke but the tension level is starting to rise in the 5:45 minyan, which, because daybreak is getting later and later, now starts at 6:10. The Rabbi REALLY wants me to skip tachanun. And some of the other guys REALLY don't want me to.

Today I thought it might come to blows. After I finished shmoneh esrei, before I could start the viduy (confession) before the tachanun, the rabbi yelled "yisgadal" from the back of the room, his prompt to skip tachanun and proceed directly to Kaddish. This caused a moment of doubt, because I didn't see today's date in the authorized "No Tachanun" list (yes, we have one) but then, it is the day before Channukah, and maybe that's one of those days that it's not said? So I went for it, and said Kaddish.

Afterwards there was a large argument out in the hallway between the Rabbi and the others and I knew that if I didn't get out of there soon that I would get caught in the middle. So I bundled up, put my shoulder forward and broke through like a quaterback trying to make a rushing play.

Believe me, if we never said tachanun again, I wouldn't miss it. I think the davening is too long already, but I just hate being in the middle of these things.


~ Sarah ~ said...

shame... all the dramas! maybe find a calendar to put near the bimah and mark on it all the various yarzheits of all rebbes and other event so that you know what's when so it doesn't end up in an argument ;)

but it's chanukah this week so you don't have to worry although i guess there is hallel.

A Simple Jew said...

PT: Sarah has a good idea. Everyday is some tzaddik's yahrzeit! ;)

Shira Salamone said...

Whoa, back up--vidui (confession) before Tachanun???

Grumble, grumble, kvetch and mumble
Nusach S'fard just makes me stumble.

Shira schleps over to the bookcase and unearths the Nusach Sfard siddur (prayerbook) that she bought for just such occasions (not to mention to look up all those unfamiliar parts of prayers that you use in some of your songs.) Then she schleps out a Nusach Ashkenaz siddur. Apparently, the vidui is included in the weekday Shacharit as an option for Ashkenazim. Never heard of it, but then, that's because I almost never daven Tachanun at home, and when I'm in shul, I'm using the old Conservative (Silverman, as opposed to the current Sim Shalom) siddur. I learn something new every day.

outofAMMO said...

thats life.

Anonymous said...

PT updated? (Klop on the bimah) No Tachanun!

Anonymous said...

Yuck...this does not sound fun. I really hear ya on shul politics. I was co-chair of a a committee once: it was a nightmare, and, well, never again.

Good luck!

Mrs. Balabusta said...

Everyone knows Quarterbacks don't have much to do with rushing plays.

Especially in Green Bay.

Soccer Dad said...

My brother (used to) daven in a Shul in Tel Aviv where they had a list of Yahrzeit's of Tzaddikim. I guess you can figure out where they stood on Tachanun.

PsychoToddler said...

After a series of similar altercations, one of the minyan guys had the Shul's Assistant Rabbi write up an official list of yahrtzeits.

The guy in the back doesn't hold from them.

Anonymous said...

Is the rabbi you mention who attends the minyan the rabbi of the shul? Isn't he, then, the local decisor?

The minyan is going to have to set a firm policy, and the attendees will need to follow it. The person leading should be given respect and not be put on the spot.

The rabbi who is the local decisor should decide on the validity of the use of the list for this purpose and, if valid, on the validity of each entry. If the decision goes against how the guy in the back holds, that's his tough noogies, pious as his noogies may be.

Personally, I don't get why a yahrtseit would be a joyous occassion anyway.

Do you wait until ten have arrived to begin, or begin and stop at barchu if necessary? If the former, you can have a rule that right before shacharit begins, it will be announced whether or not that day is a day on the list, so there are no surprises later.

Also at that point, anyone who has any simchas to announce could do so, and the leader would then decide whether or not that simcha is sufficient reason. The leader could defer to the senior person with smicha or to a majority vote if there is any doubt. This should take less than two minutes.

Anyone who arrives after shacharit has begun cannot lobby for a change of plan one way or the other later on.

Hope the Knishmas event goes well.

PsychoToddler said...

They're all rabbis. But to answer specifically, the skip tachanun guy is not THE rabbi of the shul, which is what the other rabbi used to rebut him.

There is a list of "official" yahrtzeits (which, I might add, is completely ignored when the rosh kollel is in the minyan).

I'm confused and too tired to fight about it.

Bagel Blogger said...

Your Confused PT?
Thank you for some insight into the day to day politics of wether to do or not do the tachanun.

Seems like at least you have a lively shule.

Thanks for the educational link

regards Bagelblogger

Visit: Bagelblogger

Anonymous said...

Did anyone in Boston say Tachanun yesterday? :)