Jewish · slice of life

Silent Prayer ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

This morning, we attended our neighbor’s Bar Mitzvah. As I sat in the sanctuary, I found it hard to believe he was 13. After all, he was a four-year-old boy who was always climbing a tree or playing on a skateboard when we moved next door nearly nine years ago. But there he was, standing on the bimah, wearing a suit and a tallit. How fast time goes!

At the end of the Amidah, there’s time for silent prayer before the Torah service begins. I closed my eyes when the Rabbi encouraged us to “take a few minutes for silent prayer.” Alone with my thoughts, I thought about some rocky patches I’ve had with my health and as a mom in the past week. I exhaled and hoped for a better week ahead. As my thoughts continued to wander, they were interrupted by a familiar whisper.

“I forgot to brush my teeth,” Isabelle whispered to Marc.

My eyes shot open and I started giggling. (This isn’t what you want to do during silent prayer in any house of worship!)

Isabelle gave me a “What’s wrong with you?” look.

I tried to stifle my laughter because the last thing I wanted to do was have anyone witness me laughing in synagogue. But that’s when the shakes started. In an effort to keep myself quiet, my body quaked as I held-in the giggles.

Isabelle looked at me with a why-is-this-so-funny look. (She takes her dental hygiene somewhat seriously. She never eats gummy worms or any candy the dentist warned about. While Isabelle doesn’t like flossing or rinsing with mouthwash — Who does?!??! — she does it every day because she wants her mouth to remain cavity-free.)

What I wanted to say to her was ‘How is this what came to your mind in the middle of silent prayer? I’m there praying to be a more patient parent and a healthier human being and you’re feeling badly about neglecting your teeth?!!?’ But I shouldn’t judge someone else’s meditation. Instead I took a couple more deep breaths and said, “You’ll brush them when you get home.”

And with that, the Cantor stood up and began leading the congregation in “Oseh Shalom.” Never in my life had I been happier to hear that song since it gave me the chance to stop giggling and start singing.

26 thoughts on “Silent Prayer ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

  1. Children have a way of bringing us down to earth for good or ill, don’t they? I’ve had a couple experiences like yours in church, and it was always brought on by a child’s innocent comment. Don’t you just love them?

  2. Oh, if anyone could hear the random thoughts that pop into my head when I am supposed to be silent. I well understand Isabelle’s randomness (and in a way you were both thinking of similar things- good health). It is fun and funny for kids to see their parents act in unexpected ways:)

  3. It is in the quiet when random thoughts visit. Isabelle’s thought was very unexpected and your giggles understandable reaction.

  4. Your writing reflected your contemplative mood at beginning so I was right there with you when your daughter broke the silence with her brushing dilema. Such a wonderful slice.

  5. Oh how hard it is to hold in the giggles when giggling is inappropriate! I love Isabelle’s reaction also…the, “What is wrong with you!” look. Priceless.

  6. I not only enjoyed your Slice, but the links you provided to details about your prayers and traditions. It has been decades since I attended a Shabbat service with a friend in high school; as a cradle Catholic, I can connect with the practice of ritual (and the occasional giggle in church).

  7. Love this slice – I can see the look Isabelle gave you (you described it perfectly) and could feel the pain of holding in the laughter. I went to Catholic school for 12 years and have been there many times!! This is one to save for the scrapbook.
    Clare

  8. โ€œI tried to stifle my laughter because the last thing I wanted to do was have anyone witness me laughing in synagogue. But thatโ€™s when the shakes started. In an effort to keep myself quiet, my body quaked as I held-in the giggles.โ€ This explanation of how we can lose control to laughter is so relateable! I love the direct quotes and the thoughts running wild in your brain as you tried to control your body. Great slice!

  9. This reminds me of an old Mary Tyler Moore episode. Laughter is inappropriate places is sometimes just what we need. Also, go Isabelle for being so conscientious about your dental hygiene.

  10. The harder you try to stifle laughter, the more determined it is to get out. Good thing it wasn’t contagious and that you got it under control.

  11. Just this morning we had a similar moment of laughter in church. We had a visiting priest and he began to sing prayers vs. our typical reciting of prayers. My almost 13 year old leaned over and said “What is he doing?!” with such confusion and true unhappiness to which I could only respond with quiet giggling, and shaking shoulders. They sure do know how to keep us on our toes… but most often in the quietest of places.

  12. Just like in a suspense film a scene is inserted to relieve the tension and bring us back to ourselves. Giggles are like sneezes. They are hard to stifle. You and Isabelle were both health conscious at the time. Shows a definite bonding.

  13. I might have snorted when I read this. I wonder if she was saying a silent prayer that she may never know the pain of a cavity and then had a moment of panic. Or, more likely, in her moment of thought and quiet she realized it. So funny. So sweet and innocent. I love your reaction and her reaction to you. I think I can just about see the expression she would have had after seeing enough video and photos of her.

  14. This is too funny! And I bet the Abba Father was laughing too! You have to save this slice for her wedding day!

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