9 responses

  1. It’s shocking, disturbing, Manes’s comments on shokeling. A centuries old tradition held even today by hundreds of thousands of holy Jews. It’s related to the verses that say “even with your bones you should feel G-d”, and “my soul is like a flame yearning for You”. Some daven that way all the time, others only when inspired during moments in davening. Just because Manes doesn’t feel a personal connection to shokeling, because of his own quiet and temperate personality, doesn’t give him the right to ridicule different personalities and styles. I love Manes and have listened to a ton of his teachings, in person, lectures, tapes, and videos. But here, Manes, please give the freedom to those who feel a connection to shokeling. It is absolutely beautiful, if viewed through the eyes of ancient Jewish history.

    • Hi Robert,

      I’ve discussed a similar topic with the Rabbi recently. He isn’t saying “don’t be moved by the words”. I think he is saying “Don’t move, unless you are moved”. In other words, it isn’t proper to move around as if shukling is an act of serving Hashem on its own, but serving Hashem through Davening may move you to shukel, and that is fine.

      It is about sincerity versus staging. If you are moved to shukel, there is nothing wrong with it, just shukling shouldn’t be an act that you get hung up on. Many people believe that the harder they shukel the more sincere their davening… That is a misconception worth doing away with.

  2. Rav Manis is sooo funny and so spot on. Shuckeling is symptomatic of restlessness, the very OPPOSITE of what davening is and should engender. And yes, it also looks terribly idiotic.

    To quote Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan:

    “Some people have the habit of shaking and swaying…. but the codes of Jewish law regard this more as a nervous habit than as a means of improving one’s concentration. Both the Kabbalists and many major codifiers state explicitly that all motion should be avoided….
    If you find it impossible to remain absolutely still, you may sway very lightly, but excessive shaking or swaying tends to impair concentration….”

    Source of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan quote is ‘Jewish Meditation’ (pages 104-105)

  3. Dear Rav Freidman,
    In order to understand (and accept) that which you have said i think it would be proper to give us the sources for your statements-

    • Dear ??,

      First of all, see the comment before yours.

      Secondly, the second Rebbe of Lubavitch “outlawed” external expressions of passion during davening among his students. He taught that it interferes with the truth and sincerity of the devotion and must be avoided.

      Thirdly, Rabbi Friedman brought “maaseh rav”, the behavior of the Rebbe as the source or support for his view.

      Additionally, Rabbi Friedman’s whole approach to the relationship between G-d and the Jew follows common sense and common decency. (maybe)

  4. Itkal’s comment seems to me to be the most appropriate. If moved to shokel, shokel. I have witnessed the davening of Khassidim that was very impressive, involved MUCH more than shokeling, with noise, jumps, strong arm motions, and it did not appear to be “staged” at all. These men, at the end of davening, were covered in sweat, appeared very holy and happy. It doesn’t seem to me that there is a need to criticize them, as that is what their community does. Of course, I do understand that one should not try to be excessively different from the congregation in which we regularly daven. That’s just plain Derekh Eretz.

    • I once asked RF this very question, his explained that it is inappropriate to study the meaning of the words during the time of davening, in other words that davening is not a time for learning just as learning is not a time for prayer. To do each successfully they must be done separately.

      (I’m paraphrasing RF’s words) “We should have d’veikus with the words themselves, since they are His words. How much you understand shouldn’t stop you from connecting to the words themselves and saying each one correctly and carefully.”

      Something like that.

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