Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Did Not Miss Selichot. But What if I Had?

I daven in a shul that has a minyan at 6:30am, followed by a second minyan at 7:30am. Because last night we recited Selichot for the first time at 12:30am, we had no need to arrive early for the morning davening.
After the first minyan ended, as I sat learning my morning mishnayot, a young boy - he looked about eleven - approached me. Would there be selichot, he asked me, before the 7:30 minyan. I didn't think so, but told him to ask the gabbai. The gabai told him matter-of-factly that because we had recited selichot during the night, there would not be an additional selichot in the morning.
The boy was crushed. Tears began to well in his eyes. He returned to his seat to wait for the second minyan to begin, and began to cry.
"Little boy," I called to him, "Come over here."
I showed him what he could recite from the selichot without the benefit of a minyan - reminding him to skip the י"ג מדות הרחמים - the 13 attributes of mercy of God - that require a minyan. When he learned that he could indeed, recite Selichot, he calmed down, returned to his seat, and began to pray.
And I wondered: what if I had missed selichot this morning - or any morning for that matter? Would I be upset, or would I simply chalk it up as "one of those things - what can you do?" Would I ever be so upset that it could bring me to tears?
I didn't think so.
I've got work to do.