I woke at seven-thirty, showered and dressed, came downstairs and sat at my desk and took my blood pressure meds, as I usually do. I folded myself in my blue silk tallit (noticing, as I did, the disjunction between my rough flannel shirt and the delicacy of the silk; it's getting to be cold outside, maybe time to transition to my wool one) and twined my arm and head in tefillin.
And then I plugged into my cellphone headset and dialed a conference call number, and found half a dozen of my chevre there. We called in from Pittsburgh and from Boston, from northern Vermont and from Florida, and here I am on my hillside in western Mass. After exchanging morning greetings, our voices warm with affection and with the delight of hearing each other speak, we dove into shacharit, and davened the morning service together, from afar.
There are challenges to conference-call davenen, of course. When we all sing at once, sometimes our voices block each other out. The shaliach tzibbur can't see when we've all finished our silent amidah. One of our friends, who wanted to join us, lives in Australia; but at this hour it is evening for her, and she'd be davening ma'ariv!
I grouse sometimes about ALEPH's fondness for the conference call. In many cases I wish we made better use of the internet. But for morning davening, if we can't all be in the same place, I think being together via conference call is the next-best thing, and it was really sweet to begin my day with these dear voices in my ear. I like to think the whole of FreeConferenceCall.com is blessed, today, by the intention and the heart we poured into their service at eight a.m.