Robotic Judaism

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    Hi everyone,

    I’m new here and hoping you can give me some help. I have been frum all my life. I love being frum and enjoy everything about being religious. I am middle aged, married with a beautiful family ba’h. Here is my ‘problem’. I find that everything has become kind of automatic. I start thinking about this every year as we get closer to Rosh Hashonah. I feel that, for example, when davening shemona esrai, it’s like, bow here – check, bang chest there – check. I try to think about what I’m davening about, but I just don’t FEEL enough. I’m not sure I’m explaining myself very well as it’s hard to put into words. I don’t even feel this is just in regards to davening, it goes for all mitzvos. Thank you for your input!


    By Davening, try adding your own tune.


    I know exactly what you mean. I also think about the same things, but I’ve managed to cut down somewhat. For example, I always felt robotic when putting on the tallit/tefillin in the morning. I solved that by getting to shule about 12 minutes early each morning; I’m not rushing to get them on, and I am able to take my time and put them on in a meaningful way.

    In general, for me, as long as I’m not rushing to get things done, it makes it easier to feel like I can put some meaning into what I’m doing.


    Well, in today’s day and age I think the most important thing, and basically all that we really have left to hold on to is davening. Hashem yearns for the connection, as much as we do, kaveyachol. Hashem wants us to cry out and He will comfort. We are entering Menachem Av. That’s what we yearn for. For our Av shebashamayim to be Menachem us and show that He is, was, and always will be watching over us even if it may seem otherwise sometimes. Without ne’viim and leaders to guide us we feel lost without the connection and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that He’s still right there. Try climbing to high mountain or a tall building with a view and just look at the vast beauty of His world and that He cares for every living and non living being that you see. It gives you a sense of his majesty and Kingship. Also, try finding something to cry about (Unfortunately, you probably don’t have to look far). And b’derech she’adam rotzeh leileich, molichin oso. You will Be”H connect and He will too. This is a message for me, as much as it is to you and to the rest of Klal Yisrael. Chazak ve’ematz!



    Welcome to the the club! Both, the CR and your problem.

    Let me try to start.

    Sometimes our avodah, our job at hand, is to do without a feedback, without feeling a ‘geshmack’. We have to do because we’re avdei HaShem and we do as we’re commanded. At other times, HaShem puts us into a mood where we can feel a ‘geshmack’ and zest in doing His ratzon. I think Seforim say – one time with pain (hardship) is worth 100 times without. So it may be worth it. Think about it. That itself should put you into a better frame of mind. You’re gathering diamonds by the handful!


    Hi ro66!

    first of all u should know that u r not the only one facing this issue. unfortunately many (if not most) of us do. i was once at a class about kavanah in teffilah and the speaker’s advice was to think of specific needs in each beracha. for example in the beracha of chonen hadaat u should think about a certain area that u wish that Hashem grant u clarity. as a student i always thought of a test or assignment, now i think of shidduchim…

    in the beracha of modim, the speaker advised to think of just one thing u r grateful for since the last time u prayed. even if its something as trivial as finding a parking space this morning.

    basicly one shold try to harness his thoughts to think about something practical and day to day.

    there is no problem to small for Hashem to handle! 🙂

    Hope this helps!

    minyan gal

    ro66 – I am probably the last person in the CR who should be answering you as I am not frum (but love hanging out here and learning from everyone). I attend services every day and find that after repeating the same things day in and day out, they can become automatic – and, that is what I love about it. I don’t mean that I am robotic about it, I mean that knowing so much of the service off by heart is comforting and gives me the most pleasure in davening. It is as if I can “wrap” myself in the familiarity of prayer. During a sermon, our Rabbi was listing the excuses that people use for not attending shul and the main one was that it is boring because of the daily repetition. I almost jumped up and yelled “that is the best part about it.” I hope you understand what I am trying to say (I seem to be having trouble expressing it in words) which is for me, I feel closer to Hashem because I repeat the same words again and again. Maybe if you think of prayer as a blanket that envelopes you, you may be able to, once again, FEEL the connection and know why you are there.


    You should go to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of ‘The Garden of Emuna’ It will inspire you.


    I’ve heard the term orthoprax used to describe what you are feeling….


    learn mussar


    Try to focus on (the extremely “important” (for lack of a better word) mitzvah of) Ahavas Hashem.

    It is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

    With Ahavas HaShem, your whole life can become one long interupted service of Hashem. And the “feeling” is divine. Good luck!

    tomim tihye


    I must recommend the tapes of Rabbi Yitzchok Kirzner, ZTz”L. They continuously provide inspiration to my husband and me.

    He explains many different concepts in life/Yiddishkeit clearly and eloquently. He does not offer platitudes or speeches that leave you thinking, “I could have given the same shiur myself”.

    Go to and order those tapes!


    Well, first you need to identify what the problem is.

    Like everyone is saying, Judaism makes logical sense, and particularly once you are practicing it anyway, there is no reason to not be emotionally involved.

    So the question is: Why would someone who is practicing everything anyway, and has already done the hard part, have a negative reaction to the emotional side of Judaism?

    What hurts about Judaism?


    For any Mitzva, you get a real connection when you learn its Halachos and its reasons. The more you learn about it the more you will tap into. When I say reasons, I mean all kinds: Pshat, Remez, Psychological, social and anything else you get your hands on or can grasp. Just make sure the Makor is pure.



    I think the Yesod to having feeling by Davening is dependent on 3 things,

    1. Thorough understanding of what the words mean.

    2. A recognition of the fact that you are standing in front of Hashem and talking directly to Him.

    3. A feeling of appreciation for what Hashem does for you and provides you with every second of every day. He owes us NOTHING. We owe Him EVERYTHING. Appreciation is the key to unlocking your feelings for Judaism in general. The more you appreciate the gifts Hashem has given you, the more you will feel indebted to Him and want to do His will because of His overwhelming constant kindness to you and your family, friends…


    sorry to interupt, but mikehall, what is orthoprax? one time s/o said that it was a good term to describe how i was feeling, but i can’t quite figure out what it means…

    Abba bar Aristotle

    What hurts about Judaism?

    Perhaps for some people it is just our natural laziness and for others it is their misconceptions about Hashem and Torah?


    I think this problem of “robotic Judaisim”, as the OP so eloquently put it, affects the vast majority of Jews alive today. IMHO, it is the root cause of almost every issue we face today (OTD kids, abuse, chinuch, etc).

    It is absolutely crucial that we learn feel Yiddishkeit, not just “do” it. We have to make sure not to get so bogged down that we are just going through the motions, without it meaning a thing to us.

    Practically speaking, I think the most effective ways of getting this connection to Yiddishkeit and Hashem back are:

    1) Going through davening, both its translation and its in-depth explanations. Our Davening is supposed to the basis of our relationship with Hashem, and going through davening can show you what that relationship is supposed to look like.

    2) Learn Mussar. The entire point of Mussar is to make Yiras Shomayim and Ahavas Hashem “real”. Once you acquire true Yiras Hashem (realizing how truly great Hashem is) and Ahavas Hashem (realizing how much Hashem id constantly doing for you, because He loves you), doing Mitzvos will naturally become an outpouring of that


    Robotic Judaism is not Orthoprax.

    What I do sometimes, is in middle of Shemona Esrei, during Shma Koleinu, I’ll just “talk” in English and request my requests and proclaim my apologies, etc.

    What I sometimes do is just talk to Hashem. I know it sounds corny, but before you go to bed, just “daven” to Hashem.

    (I am reminded of a famous Yerushalmi (I think) where a person stated if not for the bowing of Modim, he would never know where he’s up to in davening. In other words, this is not a new problem.)


    “What I do sometimes, is in middle of Shemona Esrei, during Shma Koleinu, I’ll just “talk” in English and request my requests and proclaim my apologies, etc.”

    I think one is only supposed to do that in middle of Shema Koleinu (between “al tishivainu” and “ki Atuh”) or after “Hashem Tzuri vi’Go’ali” in Elokei nizor. But taling to Hashem in your own langauge is definitely a great idea, and I can testify it really helps one devolop a real relationship relationship with HKB”H.


    The Bais Yaakov (the rebbe, not the school) taught that it is natural for a Jew not to feel Kirvas Elokim at all times. In fact it is a necessary part of the miracle of bechira that we sometimes experience that kind of emotional hester panim and our avoda during that time is just as valuable and deserves the same simcha as our avoda when we feel closer. Paradoxically, by doing our avoda b’simcha through the times of hester panim, we come to feel closer.


    Wow! I want to thank all of you who took the time to respond to me – you’ve given me some things to think about, and most certainly to work on! Thank you!


    Rabbeinu Bechaya (a Rishon) says a very scary thing!

    He says if you do a Mitzva without thinking you are doing a Mitzva the Mitzva is not accounted as a Mitzva.



    You are welcome. Hatzlacha!


    Happy to help ro66! just remember G-d is ur BEST friend, u can tell (or ask) Him ANYTHING, and He listens to e/t!

    minyan gal

    mw, you said “But taling to Hashem in your own langauge is definitely a great idea, and I can testify it really helps one devolop a real relationship relationship with HKB”H.”

    Last week on another thread, I said that at my shul (Conservative) just before the silent part of the Amidah, they say that you can use the Hebrew, the English or words of your own choosing. I was told by another poster that this incorrect and shouldn’t be done. I know a few people at my shul who just pour out their hearts at this time. I choose to daven the Hebrew portion but occasionally read the English to refresh myself on the meaning. I know that many people use Hebrew only siddurs, but I am happy that we use a bilingual one as my Hebrew reading skills are pretty good, but my understanding of much of the davening is lacking.


    minyan gal:

    (I believe) There is nothing wrong with talking to Hashem in English, even during the Amidah. The issue is one should still use the format of Chazal, the Shemona Esrei + 1. If one wishes to add additional requests, they can do so either at the end, or during the middle of the Amidah (not the first or last three brachos), if it is relevent to the prayer being said.

    The issue with your Temple is that one should not be Mafisik (interrupt) between the brachos of Shema and the Amidah. That is a different issue.

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