I was at the Torah UMesorah Convention this past Shabbos and I listened to about 10 Drashas over Shabbos. Although the attendance at the Drashas was respectful, many of the attendees opted out of most of them. The Shabbos Drasha, which has been an integral part of the Shul growth experience over the decades is under attack.
Two common sources of blame for its demise are shorter attention spans and the appeal of shorter yeshivish-like minyanim. In many larger Shuls this has lead to a situation where the main sanctuary is empty on Shabbos as people opt for the shorter drasha-less minyanim. As it turned out, one Rabbi who actually turned around his Shul’s main minyan with his amazing drashas was at the convention, Rabbi Eytan Feiner. But the reality is that most Rabbaim don’t have Rabbi Feiner’s oratory flair, but that isn’t really what the drasha is about anyway.
The drasha is about relationships. The relationship between a teacher and a student. The relationship between the parsha and its relevance to our growth. The relationship between a Rav, who aspires to inspiration and teaching without preaching, and his congregants. It’s about hitting singles week by week in a generation that loves the long ball.
The drasha is for us. Prepared by one caring Rav who has the difficult task of giving one talk to 50-500 people with varying spiritual needs and interests. In our communities, no one is there for us like our Rebbeim. And the drashas are the spiritual arms that he uses to reach out, to comfort, and to draw us closer to Hashem and His Torah. Let’s not make the mistake of opting out of this wonderful spiritual tool. Please regularly attend your Rav’s drashas, for the benefit of all of us.
2 thoughts on “The Death and Life of the Shabbos Drasha”
Someone engaged in this form of one-way communication to a basically captive audience might be tempted to air views that should be challenged, but to provide no avenue of challenge.
Drashas that are boring are only one factor in why large beautiful shuls have more empty seats than filled ones. Another major reason is that many of the rabbonim and old time members of these shuls do not treat and greet newcomers with open arms. Rather, newcomers are often treated with suspicion or outright hostility.
I challenge any reader to see for themselves. Go daven in a new shul that is not particularly popular or crowded and see how you are treated.
It is very very easy and comforting to daven in your Yeshivish style minyan with all of your buddies and discuss personal matters, those places will always be filled to the rafters.
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