Davening Bloopers and Other Blunders
The following is a list of errors committed by me or some of my friends over the years. Each of these was told to me by a friend who experienced it or witnessed it. I’m sure there are many more, but these are the ones that came to me immediately.
1) Bugging out at girls eating or making bracha without a kippa: One time I caught my sister eating, and it occurred to me that she was eating without a kippa. Within a few seconds, I realized my error. I didn’t say anything, but I don’t know why I expect girls to wear kippas. I might be modern, but I’m not that modern. I had just recently learned that even some Jewish men don’t wear kippas, and I was flabbergasted. Though most frum women cover their hair, I also notice that the reform women wear these kippa like fabrics in synagogue. This is troublesome: If you’ve already paskind that you are patur from all mitzvos, why even bother wearing a kippa? Is it to be more like men?
2) Saying shema without covering eyes/sitting for vayivarech dovid/az yashir/Baruch Sheamar: Chas v’chalila a yid davens without kavanah, but my friend told me that he is sometimes so tired in the morning that he just mumbles through davening without even standing for the parts where one is chayav to stand. He told me that he often says shema without covering his eyes. I guess that’s really because all sedurim print the pasuk of shema in big bold letters; they should print “cover your eyes” in even bigger letters.
3) Starting shemona esrei while sitting: In addition to the shema blooper, one can also just cruise through tzoor yisrael and shmona esrei while sitting down. When your kollel or yeshiva is learning maseches pesachim in October while you have to worry about succos at the same time, it’s easy to get distracted and not pay close enough attention to davening.
4) Davening or putting on tefilin without kippa: This is one reason why all frummies have short hair. With all the tumult of having to raise 10 kids on only a 1 million dollar Kollel/father-in-law salary, it’s common to sleep in, race to your tefillin as to not miss zman, and forget to put a kippa on. With short hair, however, it’s easier to tell that you don’t have a kippa while looking in the tefilin mirror.
5) Taking off shel yad before shel rosh: Is it true that if you touch your shel rosh first you have to put it on before the shel yad? That must be embarrassing, similar to being the guy to walk into shul in the moring during aleinu or screw something up at the bima. I would imagine sitting there with only your shel rosh and NOT the shel yad is also quite embarrassing. Also of note are the guys who walk around while putting on tefilin: you’re not allowed to do that.
6) Cursing while learning torah: I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more. All these machlokeses and the screaming between chavrusos doesn’t lead to people dropping f-bombs and curse words. I wonder what learning would be like if you could just swear at your chavrusa.
7) Turning on the light on shabbos and turning it right back off as a reflex: This used to happen to me before I started Jew-taping the lights before Shabbos and Yom Tov. The initial error would usually include a profanity followed by turning the light back off. I wonder if you get a mitzvah for actually having it so ingrained in you that you just screwed up by turning the light on that your reflex was to turn it right back off. If that’s not u’vlechtecha vaderech, I don’t know what is…
8 ) Accidentally eating/drinking on one of the (optional) fast days: I know this has happened to most people. You wake up on one of those days and go through your normal breakfast/coffee routine; though eating before shachris is a sin, some people need to have a little something before indulging in long prayer. It would suck to be the guy who eats or drinks in front of other people at shul.
9) Tefillin on shabbos: Similar to number 4, it’s not farfetched for a bachur or avreich to be so engrossed in his or her learning (yes, women have yeshivas, too, called seminaries) that he/she wakes up late Shabbos morning and jumps to put on tefilin (yes, some women wear tefilin too; they are called tefilin). This has almost happened to me, especially if I fall asleep at like 6 on a winter shabbos and wake up at 11 on Shabbos morning. If you’re so frum that your life revolves around avodas Hashem, it’s no surprise that your first instinct upon waking up late would be to start davening. Since tefilin should be worn 6 out of 7 days, it’s not completely unheard of to forget for a few seconds. When the Leafs are in the playoffs and your best friend, who is a lawyer, heard from his neighbor, who heard from his cousin, who heard from his son at CHAT that he got a heter to keep the radio or TV on on Shabbos lekavod Leafs, the lack of Shabbos atmosphere may lead one to think it’s actually a weekday.