Bored in synagogue? Bored in Hebrew school? Bored of the same old brisket?” The High Holy Days are fast approaching, and for many people the thought of spending meaningless, marathon hours in a sanctuary is already a source of anxiety. Why is it that so many Jewish rituals and behaviors elicit this kind of response, this lack of energy and dynamism? And it’s not only about religion. We’re bored of Jewish leaders who offer the same old-same old message and fund-raising campaigns that use one cliché after another.
The editor of this newspaper, Gary Rosenblatt, once commented that the greatest threat to Jewish survival today is boredom.
…When we examine Jewish laws and rituals carefully, we find that Judaism has created an intricate system for maximizing beauty and sanctifying time in all moments, what A. J. Heschel called the creation of “radical amazement.” We don’t have to look far; we just have to look deeper.
One of the reasons we fail to look within is that we blame others for our boredom. If a child is bored, it’s a parent’s fault. If school is dull, it must be the teacher. If shul is tedious, it’s probably the rabbi. The poet Dylan Thomas once said, “Something is boring me. I think it’s me.” When boredom strikes, it may be time to look in the mirror.
Yeah, that sounds nice, but how come the only time in my life when I am bored is when I am praying? The rest of my life is exciting and challenging. Davening bores the pants of me, which is why I’ve been ejected from so many shuls.
I don’t think I’m boring. I’m an exciting man with a lot on the ball. I enjoy reading, writing and walks on the beach. I am committed to monogamy, Torah, literature, and the Dallas Cowboys. I’m a swell guy. I just don’t have much interest in talking to God unless I am in deep trouble, which, thank God, does not happen that often because I lead a Godly life in an affluent country and I’ve been damn lucky to get away with a lot of mischief, baruch HaShem.
PS. I’ve just thought of one other time when I am regularly bored — when I am stuck with boring people who do not acknowledge my conversational genius and let me lead the way.
PPS. I also find much of Shabbos boring. I’d rather be watching a movie. The only time I don’t find Shabbos boring is when I have great books I’m dying to read and/or when I have great people in my life who want to talk to me.
Erica Brown concludes:
Let this be the year that we make Judaism thrilling. Pick any portal. Study Yiddish. Open the Talmud. Get a fabulous teacher. Take Hebrew. Start a Jewish book club. Learn Israeli dancing. Make changes to your Shabbat table dynamic. Make Shabbat dinner if you’re not. Invite interesting guests to share holidays. Close your eyes when you pray. Visit the sick. Sing a niggun loudly. Go skydiving with your shul sisterhood.
After all, this is not someone else’s Judaism. It’s yours.
Dov comments: “I started reading this column, but, ironically enough,