Va'eira: Just a Moment!

My wife and I were discussing something the other day, where she said something and I agreed with it.  Citing the famous Jewish saying, she said, "Of course we agree!  'Ishto k'gufo'!" (translation: his wife is like himself).  I agreed and repeated it in the first person, "You're right.  'Ishti k'gufi'".  Which translates to "My wife is like myself".  However, she, and I cannot POSSIBLY imagine how she got this into her head that I would POSSIBLY mean this, believes me to have meant the second way of translating it: My wife is like Goofy.

"I shall spread out my hands to Hashem" (Shemos 9: 29).

The morning minyan that I go to during the week (6:30 a.m.), isn't known to be the most popular one.  Unfortunately, many people come in late and rush or skip through parts.   At one point, several years ago, it was so bad, that there was no chazzan (or minyan ready) to start davening on time and we would be starting 5 to 10 minutes late every day.

Once, I got up after davening and asked everybody to start to come on time.  Not that I was personally upset that people came late (that's their business), but it was delaying the minyan (which is MY business).  Two learned individuals came up to me and reprimanded me for my request.  Naturally, both of them come very late (and continue to do so), so they were not so happy being called out on this.  One of them, somehow, even had the nerve to ask me where is my "source" that he has to come on time.  I showed him, he thanked me, and continues to come late.

I was more baffled by their reaction than by the actual lateness.  I mean … come on!  A person can come late every day to davening and still know, intellectually, that what he's doing is wrong.  It's a perfectly legitimate yetzer harah to have problems getting up in the morning.  I understand that.  But to be learned and not know this basic tenet?

Sefer HaYirah describes how one should approach davening: "he should come to shul and say, 'As for me, through Your abundant kindness I will enter Your house' and sit in his place; he should not open his mouth until he stays there a bit and thinks to himself before Whom he is sitting and Who is the One listening to him.  Then he should cloak himself with trepidation, awe, and trembling, and begin his prayers."

It seems that it's not enough to come to davening on time, but one should come a little bit early, sit, and think about Who he is davening to.

The Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah 4:16) writes: "He should clear his heart of all thoughts and see himself as though he is standing before Hashem's Presence.  Therefore, he should sit a bit before the prayers so that he can focus his heart, and that he should pray slowly and beseechingly.  He should not pray in the manner of one who is carrying a burden, and then casts away the burden and leaves.…"

Rav Shlomo Wolbe (Aleh Shur II, p. 350), "How much is a 'bit of time' [to think before davening]?  Five minutes would be a lot.  A person who waits even one minute before praying, and sits quietly in his place, focused on himself and on the prayer that he is about to recite, will see the wonderous results on how that one minute can affect his entire prayer"

While I perhaps am not a talmid chacham like these two individuals are, I think the sources brought above (and they are only a small amount) teach us that it IS important, not only to come on time to davening, but to actually come a whole minute earlier(!).  That one minute of contemplation can change "mumbling of words" into a proper conversation with Hashem Himself.