Obligation

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Rabbi Andy Bachman, an engaging and innovative Reform rabbi, recently blogged about those people who come to say kaddish at his synagogue.

Rarely, he writes, do they have a minyan. But for those two or three people who come to his study to mourn their loses, the sense of obligation is unique:

It’s difficult to talk about but the reality is that in a Traditional community, the shared obligation of making a minyan so that a mourner could fulfill the commandment of saying Kaddish IN A MINYAN is, well, an obligation. But in the “choosing community� of Reform, the notion of obligation is more difficult to come by.

Hence, one is left to travel to horizons on the phenomenologically religious frontier where one can find spiritual fulfillment both in the community and in solitude (or a kind of solitude) that isn’t fully among “ten� nor fully “alone.�(MORE)

I recently moved to a new area, where the Conservative synagogue has both daily morning and evening minyan, not a common practice for a growing number of shuls.

In part because of specific requests due to decreasing numbers, in part as an attempt to finding community, and in part to find some kind of meaning, I have become a regular attendee at the weeknight minyan. Praying in a formal setting nearly every day has started to have an impact on my approaches towards Judaism, in ways I am still trying to understand.

Yet most of the people who attend the minyan are saying kaddish or observing yartzeits. At the very least my commitment fulfills someone else’s obligation. And that is enough to keep me going.

Posted on February 5, 2008

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