Friday, October 10, 2008

Coffee Before Davening: Artificial Stimulation Or Necessary Kavannah-Enabler?


A Simple Jew has posted our latest question and answer session here. You can see his question below. My answer related to the idea of whether it's a good idea to be dependent on a chemichal for one's mental alacrity and other ideas related to the spirituality of coffee in the morning!

A Simple Jew Asks:

Do you think there is anything wrong with drinking a cup of coffee before davening Shachris to attempt to improve kavana, or would you consider the use of an artificial stimulant to be less than ideal?

Dixie Yid Answers...

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of that-design)

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great picture. It would have been perfect for a Rosh Hashana audio shiur!
From Wishing to Remain Anonymous

Izbitza said...

I think the same thing after drinking coffee in the morning- sometimes I see it as a kabbalos ol thing- I need to get up and learn- and this will keep me going- and if I feel cafinated during davenning I guess chap a rein

Izbitza said...

oops I forgot a tanya (7) - in which he says that when one eats meat and drinks wine in order to have a harchavas hadaas it is considered uplifting the klipas noga-

Anonymous said...

I have a similar question I want to throw out here:On Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah by the Tefilah for the Shliach Tzibur when he says the Personal Viduy of sorts it is the "WAY OF THE CHAZZANIM" is to FAKE A KRECHTZ (CRY) I Personally think on the Yom Hadin during a Viduy "ACTING IS UNCALLED FOR" it ran through my mind but then I thought last year I saw a guy when he went to shake Lulav he Kissed his Minim and the Doorpost of the Sukkah I Was thinking I SHOULD DO THAT TO. I am not ON THAT LEVEL BUT I thought DOING IT I WILL EVENTUALLY lead me to that level of Avodah IS IT THE SAME THING?

DixieYid said...

Anon 8:38,

Though I've already e-mailed you personally, ;-)

Izbitz,

I hear what you're saying. However, usually I would apply that idea freely when there isn't a down side. But here, you have the whole chemical dependency thing. If there's no real downside, then you couls say "Why not?! Chap arein!" But here, I don't think it's as pashut.

Anon 7:21,

I can see the connection somewhat to the whole "mitoch shelo lishmoh boh lishmoa" idea. However, I'm not sure that I would equate doing public displays of sincerity that aren't sincere to using caffeine to wake one's self up for learning in the morning. Number one, I'm not sure you can be sure the chazzan is faking it in the first place. I don't know how you can get into his heart to definitely know that. But assuming that you're right, I don't think I would feel comfortable with doing a *public* display of sincerity for the same reason that you said. However, if it's a private, *but outward* display of sincerity, then I would apply the svorah you said at the end that it will bring you to the real thing. But think you can only use that method in private displays of *outward* sincerity, like kissing your arbah minim alone in your own Sukkah for instance.

-Dixie Yid

Izbitza said...

dy- and wine isn't a chemical dependency?

DixieYid said...

Izbitz,

Drunk in a healthy way, no. Wine isn't chemical dependency. The Tanya's harchavas ha'daas from wine is a temporary or sporadic positive tool. Whereas caffeine, for many people, is an addiction that can be created for one's self and which one can't get off of easily because of the withdrawal symptoms.

BTW, thanks for the pshat from Rav Kook in the haftara!

-Dixie Yid

Izbitza said...

my pleasure- sorry for keeping you
and Alcohol dependency and abuse is an addiction too.
R Twerski says- it depends on how you use it. (he said it about a lechaim, but I think the same could be said about caffine, he does do addictions counseling you know.)

DixieYid said...

Izbitza,

True, it can be a big problem. But that's not the kind of wine the Baal Hatanya was talking about, I'm assuming!

For most people, they accept caffiene addition as a harmless addition. But it is often an addiction, nonetheless.

-Dixie Yid

Izbitza said...

my dear yid,
there are many types of addictions- we're most familiar with chemical addiction, but there are also cognitive and behavioral addictions, how much wine do I need for harchvas hadaas?
see Rav Zevin- sipurei chassidus- and/or Beis Rebbi- look in the index re the Volper Rov