Standing (or not) for the Shma, Part II

A little incident at the URJ Biennial earlier this fall incited all kinds of consternation amongst those who don’t like to sit for the Shma. Apparently a rabbi told everyone to stay seated, just to try it out, and suddenly people were claiming this rabbi had ruined their Shabat. Whatever, folks.

But then an interesting debate erupted on the iWorship listserve about it and I wrote about that here.

And then, today, HUC-JIR friended me on Facebook. (Why they have a profile and not a fan page, I will never know. The movement is not as on top of how to use social media as it thinks). And I flipped through their photos and saw this:

Clearly, the movement’s soon-to-be-ordained leaders know what they want to do during the Shma. I wonder how many of them will take that with them to the congregations they’ll soon be leading?

, , , , , ,

11 Responses to Standing (or not) for the Shma, Part II

  1. Kelly December 30, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    I don’t really get the issue here. Who cares? As long the congregation I’m davening with does whatever they are doing consistently through the V’ahavta I don’t see a problem…

    • David A.M. Wilensky December 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

      Well, that’s its own issue right there, isn’t it, Kelly? I agree with you that I think what makes most sense is to stay in one position and the position I happen to prefer is sitting. But I’m okay with whatever people want to do as long as they can justify it to me. Most, however, haven’t given it a moment’s thought or haven’t been taught enough to think it unusual.

      • Kelly December 30, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

        To me, it’s the same as what someone does in a Reform setting for the Amidah. In my congregation, like many Reform ones, the first few prayers are said outloud and together, standing up. The rest of the Amidah is ignored. There is often a 30 second “silent prayer” that the Rabbi invites the conversation to have while seated.

      • BZ December 31, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

        But I’m okay with whatever people want to do as long as they can justify it to me.

        Why should they have to justify it to you?

        • Kelly December 31, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

          BZ- I don’t think David meant specifically that people should justify things to him, what he means is that people should have an educated reason for doing what they do.

          • David A.M. Wilensky December 31, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

            Right. Obviously, people don’t need to justify anything to me in particular, but I think ritual with no thought is dumb. Know why you’re doing something or at least wonder why, want to know why.

            • Larry Kaufman January 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

              How about because it’s minhag hamakom?

              • David A.M. Wilensky January 1, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

                For some things, I’m willing to do something because it’s an interesting, amusing minhag hamakom. But when comes to something as important as this, I’d rather not.

                • Jen January 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

                  But “important” in ritual is so often visceral, and not rational at all. As I think you’ve just shown rather well, no?

                  • David A.M. Wilensky January 3, 2010 at 11:49 am #

                    Yeah. Well I keep trying to prove that I can make anything rational. Not sure I actually believe that, but I’d like for it to be treu.

  2. BZ December 31, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    And then, today, HUC-JIR friended me on Facebook. (Why they have a profile and not a fan page, I will never know. The movement is not as on top of how to use social media as it thinks).

    On principle, I reject all friend requests from non-persons. What is this, Friendster in 2003?