Minimum Tefillah for Women
(His daughter, Rebbetzin Kolodetzky, calls this “speaking to Hashem in the language of the siddur.”)
But because Rav Kanievsky understands that many women have very busy, exhausting, and distracting lives, he reassured women that just looking at the words is 50% kavanah. Meaning, that just looking down at the page (even if your mind isn’t there) automatically snags you half of the obligatory kavanah according to all opinions in halacha. Any more you do as far as kavanah goes tips you over the halfway point.
Furthermore, even though davening a full Shacharit on your own can take at least a good 45 minutes, Rav Kanievsky insists that 25 minutes is enough. (Although it’s perfectly understandable that some women don’t even have that.) Then he offers 5 minutes for Mincha (just enough time for a VERY speedy Shemoneh Esrei), and 7 minutes for Maariv.
So yes, Rav Kanievsky made a request for women to increase their davening (when most poskim obligate women only 1 or 2 tefillot a day). But he pared it down to the bare minimum, so as to minimize the pressure.
10 Minutes Earlier
TEN MINUTES! That’s it!
(It’s much harder than it sounds, by the way…but still very worth trying.)
The 1-Minute Hitbodedut
However, the Breslov yeshivah katanah (for teenage boys) told its students to engage in 1 MINUTE of hitbodedut each day.
Demanding more of a person can discourage them from doing it at all.
Furthermore, I knew of a very down & long-suffering person for whom Rav Arush recommended write a daily list of 20 things for which this person is grateful—and include as one of the items something this person lacks yet desires very much. At least once a day, this person must thank Hashem for that painful nisayon. And hopefully, Hashem will fulfill the wish and end the nisayon.
Now, how long does it take to write down 20 things?
Please note: He didn’t tell this person to do any hitbodedut. Without even knowing the person, Rav Arush realized that it would be too much. So instead, he advised this person to make a list that could be accomplished within 1 or 2 minutes.
People from all different backgrounds and hashkafot, from Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein to Rav Ofer Erez, have been encouraging people to make a daily gratitude list of 10 things to 100 things. Ten things!
How long does that take? How easy is that?
(Yet even with that, let me tell you that there is a strong yetzer hara against it...)
10 Steps to Greatness
(And not only did he pare it all down to 10 steps that demand mere minutes or seconds, but he recommends trying it for 30 days and then taking a break, if necessary—and then come back slowly.)
The last step is to sit on the floor for 1 second & ponder the loss of Yerushalayim.
Every day. Or whenever you remember.
Also, you should try daily to do one act of chessed that nobody knows about.
Every day, offer an encouraging word to one person.
Also, once a day, say to Hashem, “I love You.”
In another dvar Torah, Rav Miller suggested you say the following to your friend while walking down the street: “Let’s make a project that from this lamppost to the next lamppost, we’ll only think of HaKadosh Baruch Hu.”
If you’re alone, Rav Miller encourages you to say to yourself:
“I can think about Hakadosh Baruch Hu from this street to the next street—it 's only twenty paces in between—so that means I was alone with Hashem for a little bit.”
And at the end you relax.
“Ah, I did it. I made it. For twenty paces I thought about Hakadosh Baruch Hu.”
( from Shemot 2: A Life Apart)
1) Instant Self-Transformation
For example, if you spend 20 paces determinedly thinking about Hashem, you go from someone who either only thinks you think about Hashem to someone who actually thinks about Hashem; or you go from someone who thinks “this isn’t for our generation” or “I’m not on that level” or “that’s only for truly great people” to someone who suddenly is on that level and is that type of person.
You kept passing by that open door...
...but now you finally took a step into that new & better world.
2) You Actually Do It
Even a discouraged person, a lazy person, a busy person, or a totally nonspiritual person can sit on his or her bedroom floor for 1 second and say, “I’m so sorry about the destruction of Yerushalayim, Hashem.”
You can make yourself feel sorrow over the destruction for 1 second.
Even if you’re depressed, nonspiritual, completely stressed out, or distracted, you can still mouth the words, “I love You, Hashem.”
And even the most attention-seeking narcissist can force him or herself to do one act of chessed without telling anyone—even something small, like throwing away the used coffee cups at work or or dropping a coin in a tzedakah box or parking one’s car farther away from the store entrance (thereby freeing up the closer spaces for other drivers).
So people end up doing powerful things they would never do otherwise.
3) When One Turns into One Thousand
Truly great people understand the transformative power of any mitzvah.
Many of us are already familiar with the Vilna Gaon’s insistence that for every word of lashon hara NOT expressed (whether via speech or facial expression), we create a light so great that even the highest angels cannot imagine it.
But such powerful behind-the-scenes effects occur with all spiritual efforts.
Truly great people understand the power of 1 second of mourning for the Beit Hamikdash.
Truly great people understand the power of saying “I love You, Hashem.”
Truly great people understand the power of focusing your entire mind on Hashem from one lamppost to another.
It’s really only the more ignorant or spiritually small people who say, “One second doesn’t matter. One utterance doesn’t matter. If you daven a Mincha in a flash with no conscious kavanah, then it doesn’t matter.”
It DOES matter.
It matters A LOT.
And because of this bare minimum, you can have 1000 Jews mourning the Temple who wouldn’t have otherwise (outside of Tisha B’Av).
That’s 16 minutes of mourning on a regular day.
Over time, this 1 second spread out among many people adds up to hours of powerful mourning.
And how many people have now said, “I love You, Hashem” simply because Rav Miller suggested it in such an easy and approachable manner?
Over the years, even if each person who heard this suggestion only said it once, how much is that?
And likely, many people decided to say it several times—maybe daily or weekly or even just yearly.
Regardless, that’s tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands (or maybe even a million?) of expressions of love to Hashem.
That certainly sweetens dinim & brings bracha!
It really truly is the small things that count.
We just need to do them.