You can finally decide which of the shtibel’s Top Five cast of characters you can truly be
While most of us are pining for the day we can go back to shul, davening alone in our own homes is actually a great opportunity on many levels. It allows for full freedom of expression. It’s your own shul, so you get to choose the nusach — and the herring! You drink the Old Williamsburg! And best of all, you can finally decide which of the shtibel’s Top Five cast of characters you can truly be. For example, you can finally be...
All the signs have been there, just waiting for the opportunity. You always sing extra loud when the gabbai walks by, your favorite aliyah is maftir, and your tallis zekel secretly contains a giant shaliach tzibbur siddur. So now’s your chance! At your very own minyan, you’re always the chazzan! Your “cousin Lemel” impression will dazzle your entire family (read: captive audience) who will delight in your Mimkomcha, be overwhelmed by your chazzanus, and cheer wildly for your Aleinu. Now’s the time to let loose and be brave — go for the Moshe V’Aharon high notes. Lift your voice as high as it can go for your family and see who cracks first.
Are you slightly megalomaniacal? Are you in charge of the quantity-limiting and strategic placement of the shul’s tissue boxes? Then being the gabbai might be your calling. You decide who davens for the amud, who gets the fourth aliyah, and whose Mishebeirach is the longest. Pick your favorite imaginary friend for pesichah, and even be the guest rav and deliver a stirring dvar Torah. There are no limits to your gabbai powers — you can even save the whole mizrach vant for yourself if you choose, and shush whoever you want. Bang loudly on the bimah and announce yaaleh v’yavo, mashiv haruach, and Aneinu. This could be the perfect time to live out your gabbai fantasy.
The Baal Korei!
Are you the one who always reads along when you get an aliyah, just loudly enough to ensure that everyone knows that you too can lein? Now’s your chance! Just take any regular Chumash and pretend there’s no written trop. You can speed through the aliyos and then stop and call the imaginary rav over for an imagined psul you’ve found on a typo. Be megalgel your Chumash for the haftarah, and even award yourself backward hagba’ah. It’s your time to shine!
The Baal Tokeia!
Have you always secretly wanted to blow the shofar? Do you wear a kittel on Rosh Hashanah and carry a shofar in a quick-draw shoulder holster, secretly hoping the baal tokeia needs a backup and calls on you to come swooping in and blow everyone away? Now’s your chance! A hundred kolos? You can do 1,000! Every permutation of tekiya and shevarim, Rashi kolos, and two- or one-breath combinations, even blow reveille, charge, and retreat! It doesn’t matter which Rosh Chodesh we’re holding by… pandemic zeman is Elul zeman. So break some hearts and bring the whole neighborhood closer to Hashem.
The Real You!
Always wanted to be early for davening, to have the time to wash your hands and mentally prepare to speak to Hashem? Have you always wondered what the first 20 pages of Shacharis are talking about? Do you wish you could just sit, wrapped in your tallis, and think about all you have to thank the Ribono shel Olam for and what you have to accomplish with your time left on this earth? Now’s your chance! It’s your minyan, and you set the pace. Wash your hands, wrap yourself in tallis and tefillin, and be one with the longest Shemoneh Esreh of the shul. Slowly read every word of Korbanos and think about the ketores and about how Aharon HaKohein used it to stop the plague. Then take your time building up to Bircas Krias Shema — after all, what’s the rush? Kiddush starts when you decide, and there’s literally nowhere else to go.
Whichever you decide, there may never be a better time to become the personality you’ve always wanted to be. Carpe diem! Can’t wait to meet the new you in shul very soon…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 811)
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