To Donate Click Here

Praying for women in non frum home, fear and chizuk and questions

Question:

Shalom,

B”H I have been praying shacharit for a few years, but because I knew that having interruptions in shmone esrei is a sin, I’ve never done this tefillah. I am a baalat teshuvah and the agreement in my family (I was being told the agreement) was that I may only be observant if I keep it entirely invisible. B”H G-d is helping me do that. But one of these rules is that if they call me, I must answer right away. I’m not allowed to delay the response because of praying. Therefore, I have never tried shmone esrei.

But my amazing Rebbetzin has recently told us girls how important this prayer is and one Shabbat morning, I knew I was totally alone as everyone stayed up late, and that it was guaranteed that no one would interrupt me B”H. So I looked up and said to Hashem, Aba I want to pray this special prayer my teacher said for you this Shabbat, and I prayed it and I didn’t understand a lot of it at the time, but B”H it felt so special! That occasion was about a month ago, and since then I have strongly attempted on and off to pray the Amidah. I’ve been trying to learn how to gauge whether or not I will be completely alone, I did fail twice….so my family did interrupt it twice….but B”H since then they haven’t. But because I was SO afraid of sin, I haven’t prayed it everyday…

But this has caused me a lot of stress….am I now creating a new obligation? And then breaking a good thing? So, then I started saying to G-d bli neder (I did this already from the beginning both in head and in mouth but just in case….) and then somewhere along the way…I also felt incredibly guilty.

Because they say Hashem will help you do a mitzvah if you really try, and B”H He has! Since the two times they did interrupt, it has turned out that I was ALWAYS alone when it came time for Tefilah, always. B”H.

But I missed praying DELIBERATELY because I was SO SO afraid of creating a habit or in sinning in some way… what if I create this obligation and then c”v one day they are with me all day and I can’t pray without any interruptions? What if that happens for two weeks or something long like this? Will I be walking into a trap for sinning? Should I not have known better by not taking this on at all?

But I’ve realized that if Hashem has literally placed me entirely alone every single time I need to pray and I’m purposely missing prayers this is wrong for me to do…..it sure feels wrong.

I am scared to take on a new obligation, but I do feel strongly that I need to do it. Particularly because the way WAS paved for me. I was always alone for tefillah since.

Because of my family situation, I have always only followed the one prayer a day rule for women, relying on that ruling.

I have previously acted with that if I missed shacharit, I would pray a Mincha. Keeping in mind that I only follow the one prayer a day, I just want to verify if this is the correct for me to do for now? (B”H bli neder I hope to do 2 or 3 per day someday….but to build up slowly)

And if I missed the time for Mincha as well, and can now say Maariv (which B”H can be an *almost* guarantee since B”H I have my own door and can close it at night before bed) can that also count as making up a prayer? Since it is ‘halachic’ days, if I missed shacharit today, and I can only daven Mincha tonight to make up for it, I still need to daven shacharit like normally the next day, correct?

Because of all this nervousness, I have missed about 15 or 16 tefillahs over the past few weeks, so…does that mean I need to count 15 or 16 ‘double praying’ days to make up for them?

And as an example, basically my purpose is that to make sure no matter what my family does or what their schedule is, I can still keep praying. So for example, if I know that the next day, my family and I will likely only wake up close to the end of the Zman for morning prayer (we often do a night schedule sort of thing, especially since the war in Israel) can I daven a maariv to make for the shacharit that I know I will 90 percent miss?

Is there any other advice or chizuk you can give to a woman who wants to pray well but feels tight on situation and time? And doesn’t want to sin?

I feel really guilty for not trusting Hashem enough to clear the way for me…He literally started making it that I was always alone to pray…and I was so scared of the sin of someone interrupting amidah that I skipped the whole prayer in fear of that. Can you please help reassure me on this as well so that I can quiet that inner voice?

I’m scared of spiritual commitment because of my family situation, but B”H Aba helps me out, and because we’ve approached this together, B”H I have come to a point where after 8 years I was offered a Baal teshuvah chattan with amazing middot and a very high level of mitzvah observance, and the rabbi is very confident in our shidduch. If I would have never tried, even within my circumstance, I just would not have made it to this level without action. Hakol MeHashem….So I know it’s important to try when you’re scared, and feeling like in a tighter area, but I’m still afraid of commitment in mitzvah due to possibility of sinning in my environment.

A rabbi once told me, when I said this, that it is even better to Hashem, that you sin but you try, then to not try at all because you’re so scared to sin. I grew up with religious people deliberately stressing not to take on a new mitzvah if it seems difficult, in fear that you may sin in it in some way, and my mother was taught this too. She told me that she never started lighting Shabbat candles because she was so afraid that if one Friday night she’ll need to go out or will miss, she will disappoint Hashem so much, and cause herself so much anxiety that she has disappointed Hashem, that she felt it was better not to take on a holy action such as this, and not disappoint Him. But I guess now after many years of learning I feel like He will be even more sad if you never light them at all….

it’s complicated…

Also, as a side question, I have been praying the tachanun, can women do that one? (B”H I have an orthodox siddur for women which lists it in there so I assumed it’s for us as well, but then someone on this site said women don’t say it, could you please help clarify for me?)

Answer:

Hello,

After reading your letter I am truly amazed, at your emuna, bitachon, and your drive to do what is correct, your perseverance through years of difficulty.  You also seem to know a lot, and it is very impressive.  It is wonderful that you see Hashem’s guiding hand, in you day to day life, and that you are living your life together with Hashem. That is why you are having such siyata dishmaya. I envy you olam haba.

As you write, there are different opinions, how much a woman has to daven each day. As you are doing, you should try to daven at least once each day, and the fact that you said bli neder is also good. This way you when you can’t daven, you can just say brachot in the morning, which won’t disturb anyone, you don’t have to worry that you made a neder. I understand the stress that you are under, but as you write you seem to have worked things out beautifully.

Maybe there is a way to gently rid yourself of this issue, by talking to your mother, and explaining to her that you are already of marriageable age, and someone your age should have the freedom to choose to do what they want for a few minutes a day. I would assume that you mother would agree that if you would be on the phone with a friend, that you wouldn’t have to stop what you are doing at any given moment, the second that anyone calls you. So why should your talking to Hashem be different. You might be able to explain to her that you try your hardest to respect their wishes and pray when it will not affect them at all, but having to stress that you must answer and come the second you are called, at any time of the day, is very stressful for you. If you talk to her respectfully, she just might agree.

Regarding saying tachanun, the general custom is that women don’t say tachanun.

Hashem should continue to shower you with siyata dishmaya, and you should find you Chattan soon, and build a bayit neeman b’Yisroel, and build a beautiful Jewish home.

Best wishes

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *