When I was little I had a hard time sitting through the Yom Kuppur services. When I would inevitably tug on my mother's clothes and not-so-discreetly whine about being bored, she would have me read some interesting parts of the prayer service. Sometimes she would point out how the prayers form intricate acrostics. It did not keep me from sneaking out to the hallway to play tag, but it kept me looking at and thinking about the prayers longer than I would have. So, thank you, Ma.
A couple of decades later, I'm not much better at staying focused. So I tried my mother's tactic, only to find that the machzor (High Holiday prayerbook) is filled with the most amazing poetry, and it is holy too.
Since then, I have been thinking about prayer as a means of expression. It is generally said that Torah is what we get from G‑d, and prayer is what we express back toward Him. In other words, it's art, sacred art. Not every piece catches my imagination, but the ones that do give me inspiration to bring the others to life in my mind.
If you face similar difficulties, perhaps the best distraction from a long prayer service are the prayers themselves.
Have a meaningful and easy fast, and a sweet new year.
Dovid Taub, on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team
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