Enveloped in His Prayers| March 23, 2021
As we mark one year since the pandemic changed our lives, we asked you to introduce us to your COVID heroes
Post-Purim 2020, we found out that all minyanim had been canceled.
That night I told my husband to wake me up in the morning so I could daven Shacharis alongside him. I thought it would be fun for me, and it would give my husband a lift about davening b’yechidus.
When the alarm clock rang I was exhausted, but got all dressed and ready… until I realized I could have slept longer.
I didn’t realize how much goes into my husband’s pre-davening routine: Tehillim, learning Mishnayos for his father, now gone from this world for 17 years (what a Gan Eden my shver must have)… and I don’t say Korbanos.
I didn’t realize a lot of things. I watched as he bedecked himself with his tallis. My favorite word now is definitely “l’hisatef.” After the brachah, he took his tallis, and in slow motion, placed one corner across the opposite shoulder. He then he did the same on the other side. He was engrossed, lost someplace — and when he emerged, I was sure I sensed the presence of the Shechinah.
I then watched as he lovingly donned his tefillin, concentrating deeply, making sure the box was placed just so on his head.
Ah, finally Hodu! Things progressed with me following (and sometimes racing ahead), until we came to the point where my husband handed me a few coins and motioned toward the pushke. All these years, I’d never read the small print in my siddur. This davening was an entirely different experience.
As Shacharis came to a close, my husband took off his tefillin and started to put on the next set. We caught each other’s gaze, mine with tears. These were my father’s Rabbeinu Tam tefillin, gifted to my husband upon my father’s petirah. As he took them off, he kissed the batim and was about to put them back in the case when he suddenly extended the tefillin toward me. I kissed them oh so tenderly, the same batim my father once kissed.
We continued through the days, weeks and months, joining to daven all three tefillos. We davened many Shabbos and Yom Tov tefillos together; he leined from a Chumash (he should have been a baal korei), he stopped before each aliyah to explain the parshah (he should have been a pulpit Rabbi), and he bentshed Rosh Chodesh and recited Hallel better than anyone I know (he should have been a baal tefillah).
A year later, I remain so inspired by my hero that I have kept davening those three tefillos a day and love doing so. (I did a lot of “mashliming” at the beginning, but I think I have it down pat now.)
Although I do miss having my husband around as I daven (is that sacrilegious?), I never want to go back to the era of the shul closures. That made my hero so sad.
Hakadosh Baruch Hu, please, finally, “hisatef” us in your Shechinah and take us to Your place of prayer.
—Raizel Zissel, Montreal, Quebec
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 854)
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