I led Minchah for the first time today. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but I figured it was better to wait until winter break, when almost everyone was gone, so if I screwed up, it wouldn’t be in front of the whole seminary and my dad.
I did okay until the prayers after the Amidah. I’ve heard them a thousand times, I looked them over before getting up there, but the moment I turned the page, my brain froze up. I couldn’t recognize a single word. The vowels blurred. I made my way through it, shaking, syllable by stumbling syllable, and the more nervous I got, the worse I floundered. Every time I asked God to listen to the prayers of Israel, I felt like no God could possibly have the patience to listen to that painful stuttering. Even after the silence of Tahanun, when I had a moment to pull myself together, I had psyched myself out so badly that I could barely voice the rest. At least I managed to get it together for the Mourner’s Kaddish; there was no way I was going to let my attack of nerves interfere with someone else’s grief and service to the dead.
Everyone was really kind afterwards, despite having sat through what must have been the most irritating Minhah ever, but I felt really bad for putting them all through that.
I want a rematch, dammit. And next time I’m gonna kick butt.