I davened my last Shacharis of my aveilis on Wednesday. My 11 months of saying Kaddish is over on Shabbos, and my Rav said that we should not daven from the Amud in the 12th month. Since the minyan where I daven Shacharis does not allow aveilim to daven on Rosh Chodesh, Wednesday was my last one.
The beginning months were difficult, due to my inexperience, the pressure to daven faster and make more mistakes, and the many corrections that were offered. But, as I entered the final month, the mistakes, corrections and time pressures decreased and it gave me the opportunity to appreciate and understand the collective needs of the Tzibbur.
I think the Tzibbur and Gabbaim were a little surprised when I paused before Aleinu on Wednesday, asked for quiet, and gave a 20 second farewell speech. I explained this was my last time at the Amud and I praised the Tzibbur for their strong Amens and responses during Kedusha and Kaddish. I then thanked them for their sensitivity when making corrections. And finally I thanked them for encouraging or tolerating the speed of my davening. I also endorsed a suggestion made by the Gabbai to add two minutes to the beginning of davening for Berachos and Pesukei D’Zimra.
Davening is a very difficult and a very personal endeavor. I think most observant Jews want to improve their davening, but we’re all following different paths to get there. It’s pretty amazing that we actually daven together 3 times a day. Our differences will inevitably lead to conflicts, but reflection leads to an appreciation of the positively powerful prayer of the Tzibbur.