A number of years back I spent Rosh Hoshana with a good friend of mine at a Hotel based program. My friend was seated between two Rebbeim who would cry quite audibly during the moving “Unsana Tokef” prayer. He related that since he was surrounded by crying, he did the only sensible thing, which was to start crying himself.
For many people, crying is not an option. They understand the seriousness of the Day of Judgement, but we’re not a crying generation. We don’t relate so well to judgement. Rather, many of us are looking for some melodic inspiration, so we can mentally commit to making some improvements in our behavior.
What if you find yourself in a Yeshiva or other din-oriented venue on the Yomim Noraim? You can still chose to make the most out of it. Don’t focus on your dissatisfaction with the davening – that is unlikely to improve the situation. Try to read an inspiring Dvar Torah. Work a little harder on praying with kavanna, especially on the first brocha of Shomoneh Esrai. Make sure you do join in when there are musical moments.
Any effort we make to demonstrate that we want to connect to the day and to Hashem is valuable. And the Yomim Noraim are a time when we get double coupons for our efforts. Let’s hope that we all make the best of these important days.