1. I'm one of those people who don't mind leading services for the congregation on occasion, and normally this goes off without a hitch. A couple weeks ago, I lead the evening services in the big 770, and while I was waiting around for people to finish their personal devotional services so that I could commence the Kaddish, I was criticized by several members of the congregation for my speedy rendition of the prayers. I'm not one to respond to criticism of this sort, so I merely shrugged my shoulders and half-smiled. Sensing fresh blood in the water, they pounced, and started telling me how terrible I was (or something like that). Eventually I escaped, and lived to tell the tale.
In my defense, this particular quorum of people had been waiting around for five minutes, and I had declined to lead the prayers several times, on account of my recitation of the daily Ramabm (to head off any advance at the pass, it was the laws of the sanctification of the new moon, and there's no way I'm learning that without a shiur and coffee). Eventually I got fed up (and finished Rambam), and agreed to pray for the assembled masses, to (at the time) great acclaim. Point is, these people wanted me to daven, and it's really not my problem that their own benedictions flowed like molasses in January (admittedly, I davened faster than one would Neilah on Yom Kippur, but still, it's not like I was pulling off a ten minute shacharis [obviously, it was maariv] or something like that). I felt rather put out at the time, but got over it, and am now a better man because of it.
Last night a similar thing happened. There were a number of people waiting for a leader to take them to the promised land, and after I finished up a conversation with an esteemed employee of Chabad.org I volunteered to lead the services. Learning from my previous mistake, I davened nice and slow, allowing everyone to take a couple yawns between paragraphs, and once I had seven or eight people waiting who had finished the silent standing I began "Sanctified and Hallowed be His Name." Soon after, while still saying Joshua's prayer (they always get you when you can't respond, eh?), I was assaulted by a man in black who demanded to know why I had begun Kaddish before I had enough people.
This time I managed to respond, and I told him that where I come from (good 'ol S. Paul), we say the Kaddish prayer when there are six people able to respond. Here there were definitely more. He said something about nine people, but I'll take Rabbi Z's word over his any day. He then launched into a whole thing about "sizing up the situation" which I felt was completely unnecessary, and finally let me go home when I gave him a non-committal grunt. Sheesh.
2. I saw a friend of mine, who recently went off to become a Shliach in southern California, in 770 this morning. I saw another friend of mine (undoubtedly looking for shlichus) and asked him why this other guy was in town. He said, "It used to be that when a guy suddenly appeared in 770 you didn't ask questions...". I answered that this was a very policy, and one which I strongly promoted, but it didn't cover the current situation. I continued that we couldn't even compare this case to that of Los Cabos, because there's no reason to suspect that the hospitals in Los Angeles are in any way inferior to those of New York. In fact, seeing as this person's wife is from Los Angeles, it wouldn't make any sense for them to come to Brooklyn for that reason. So, what's the story?
Wednesday, December 9, 2009