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Minyan Motivation

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Topic: Shul, Getting Involved

[Name withheld] from Bogota, Colombia

Dear Rabbi,

Although living in a city with three or so synagogues (located in South America), I find it difficult to drag myself to shul. What would be a suitable argument to put myself to it apart from the ones that are so common (you shouldn't separate from the community, prayer is more appropriate in a minyan, etc.). I would appreciate your feedback to this point that is important to me.

Dear [Name Withheld],

Like anything you want to do but find difficult, you've got to start by 'tricking' yourself into it.

Here's an idea I've found helpful: Find a study partner. Arrange to meet in your synagogue and study Torah together before the morning prayers (for even as little as 10 minutes). The obligation to your study partner, and the embarrassment felt for missing your appointment, will help get you there.

Become more involved in the 'technical' side of shul. Get the key to the shul and be the one responsible for opening up in the morning. Be the gabbai who calls people up to the Torah, or who's responsible for getting someone to lead the services. Lead the services yourself. Becoming involved will make you feel more part of and responsible to the community.

Set aside ten minutes a day to study a book that explains the prayers. Understanding the prayers will make praying a meaningful experience.

When you're in the synagogue, look at yourself as being the tenth person in the minyan even if there are hundreds of people present! Why? Let me explain with a story:

A town decides to have a party. In order to supply wine for the party, they place an empty barrel in the town square and ask everyone to bring a glass of wine and pour it into the barrel. One of the inhabitants decides to bring a glass of water: "After all," he thinks "will anyone be able to tell if there is one glass of water in a barrel full of wine?" On the day of the party, everyone comes to the square, dressed in their finest, ready to begin the festivities only to find that the whole barrel is full of water!

If everyone were to rely on the others to make up the minyan, chances are that there would be no minyan at all.

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