Ripping Back the Knitting

Last week, I stood on the bima (the raised stage at the front of the synagogue) on a Sunday morning, in front of the Sunday school, during our weekly religious school prayer service, ripping back a shawl I was about a third of the way through with. I was ripping back dozens of hours of work. And I asked the kids how they thought I was feeling.

Fortunately I got the expected responsese: “I bet you feel lousy.” “You must be really sad.”

I proceeded to explain that, in fact, I felt quite okay about it. I knit not because I am so invested in the finished garment, but because I like knitting. I was bored with this project, and didn’t think I would find it interesting as a piece of work once it was done. So I was ripping it out. The key aspect, however, is that I knit for the sake of knitting, so by tearing back and using the yarn  for something else, it provided me with even more opportunity to knit.

The reason I was explaining this during a prayer service is that prayer  is just like this. I pray not to get to some desired goal. I do not expect God to directly answer or “grant” my prayers. I do not do it so that I am suffused with a sense of peace and spirituality (though often I am). I pray because I enjoy praying, which is the best reason to pray. When you pray with some other goal in mind, there is always a significant chance of being disappointed. But when you pray because it is something you want to do, even if you don’t get a sense of peace from praying, it has not been wasted time. And even if I don’t enjoy every moment of prayer, like knitting, I continue because I know that, overall, I enjoy it, and sometimes you just have to push through the boring to get to the satisfaction. When you’re knitting a sock, there will be some 2 x 2 ribbing. When you pray, there will be times when it’s going through the motions. But you have to go through the motions to get to the times that you enjoy.

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3 Responses to “Ripping Back the Knitting”

  1. Rebel26 Says:

    I’m visiting from Ravelry, but I started reading your thoughts on spirituality. Your view on prayer is blowing my mind! Honestly I haven’t prayed in a loooong time. (ok – there was my usual ‘dear god don’t let this plane crash’ prayer the last time I flew somewhere – but I *always* do that – just in case!) You’re really making me think here!

  2. rabbidavidkominsky Says:

    I’m really glad to have given you something to think about. Helping people to think differently is a key motivator for much of what I do. 🙂

  3. Robert Says:

    Rabbi – I have a dilemma – around sewing and knitting on Sundays. Having grown up in a fairly conservative Lutheran home, we considered Knitting and Sewing on Sunday “the Sabbath” a big issue. I am presuming that is transferred itsefl from the 30 Prohibitions on what cannot be done on the Sabbath? I don’t know if you are a Conservative or Reformed Rabbi, but I would appreciate your thoughts or perspective on how you have worked through this – assuming you knit on the Sabbath. Thanks so much!


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