Our BS, eh?

A Canadian's musings on life in RBS-A (Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph), Israel and whatever else I feel like writing about.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Unapologetically Disturbing Davening

I've had to come to terms with the fact that there will always be tzedakah collectors during davening - even though it comes to me as a contradiction since these mostly charedi looking people should understand and respect the fact that a person davening to Hashem should not be disturbed. Yeah, right. I guess they figure giving tzedakah is a great mitzvah opportunity and most people don't have kavanah anyway, so let's cut the frummie stuff about disturbing davening. I understand it's a captive audience and therefore more efficient than going door to door, although I wonder if the take is the same. Personally I give more to someone at my door than a collector in shul.

Now it's one thing if they walk around with their hand out or put a flyer in front of you, as long as they don't bother you. Or if it's during Chazaras HaShatz when a person isn't actually davening. It's when they start talking to you while you're actually davening that I get annoyed. I once told off a guy that did that to me. It was during Ashrei / Uva L'Tzion and I was very clearly looking into my siddur and saying the words when this guy started in with his story. I was so resentful of this invasion and of his chutzpah that I said aloud: HKB"H, tamtim rega, yesh ben adam sh'yoter chashuv mimcha! (G d, hang on a sec, there's someone here more important than You!) He walked away embarrassed and I sat there feeling terrible that I had embarrassed him in public. Luckily he was still there after davening so I went over to him to ask mechilla for embarassing him, but also to find out what would motivate him to start talking to me like that when it was clear I was davening. He said something like the poskim say it's muttar during Ashrei / Uva L'Tzion. I wonder which poskim. To me, "The poskim" is like saying, "Sfarim HaKedoshim teach us..." But I digress.

In chutz la'aretz, some shuls have rules about tzedakah collectors. Not during davening, but after, or you can walk around, but don't disturb people, Shliach Tzibur is off limits, go the the gabbai only and he'll give you from the shul's tzedakah fund, etc. I've never seen any shuls here in Eretz Yisroel with rules liek this, but most of the time, the collectors themselves have limits too. So far, I've never seen anyone walk around during shomeh esrai or kedusha, but today's collector came close.

I had on my Tefillin shel yad and was taking out my shel rosh. Unless you're about to keel over and die, this is a point where you're basically not allowed to talk or do anything unrelated to putting on your tefilliln. It's right at this moment that a guy slips a laminated letter of approbation for me to read, and then starts talking to me! I was livid. He walked away when I didn't answer him, but by the time I was finished putting on my tefillin, he was back again to collect his laminated letter - as if he had given me sufficient time to read it - and to take my money. Of course I had neither read the letter nor prepared any money for him. But now that I could talk, I asked him, and was very careful not to be antagonistic, just curious: Lo samta lev sh'hayiti bein ha'shel yad v'ha'shel rosh? (Didn't you notice I was between my shel yad and shel rosh?) - indicating the poor timing of his approaching me. He looked at me for a second, then said, "Rotzeh La'azor?" (Do you want to help?) I felt like taking his laminated letter and flinging it across the shul, but I knew I had a level to preserve too, so I bit my tongue. By then he had walked away anyway.

I'll admit I know nothing about this fellow or his situation, and that's what being dan l'kaf zechus is all about. Maybe his mind was preoccupied with his troubles. I would have found it easier to let it slide had he simply acknowledged, not even so much apologize for his poor timing. But that he was so indifferent, even after I pointed it out, that makes it hard to judge so favourably. I'm working on it.

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