(The writer of this piece thinks he should probably have opted to remain anonymous, since he is afraid that his friends, who are already not allowed to talk to him in shul, will not talk to him at all after they read this.)
What exactly is it that God hears when we daven and simultaneously chat a little with the person next to us in shul? Here’s what Ashrei might sound like to God when the shul-goer also has other things he or she needs to say. God, of course, has no problem understanding the mixture of Hebrew and English. But to simplify things for the Jewish Action reader, we present the entire piece in English.
Happy are those who dwell in Your House; they will always praise You, selah.
Happy are such people; happy are the people whose God is the Lord.
A song of praise of David.
I will exalt You, O my God, the King, and oh, it’s about time you showed up! I will bless Your name, and if you wait till I move my Chumash, you can sit here, forever and ever.
Every day I bless You, and no one’s using that siddur, so you can take it, and praise Your name forever and ever.
The Lord is great, and look who’s here! Abba brought you to shul? He’s greatly to be praised; His greatness is unlimited. He’s a great Abba, lets Ima sleep.
One generation will praise Your works to another—such a big boy!—and tell of Your mighty deeds. You walked all the way to shul?
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wonderful deeds I will meditate, and here’s a candy.
Hey, did you see the paper? They speak of the power of Your awesome deeds. Awesome game. I will talk about Your greatness; great is the only word for the Yankees these days.
They recite the record—they’re now 53-35—of Your great goodness, and sing—oh no, that new gabbai is asking Chaim to daven Shacharit—of Your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful; God have mercy on us! Slow to anger; he’s as slow as molasses, and great in loving-kindness.
The Lord is good to all, and by the way, you’re a good guy. His mercy extends over all His works, because that stock tip you gave me last Shabbat really paid off.
All Your works shall acknowledge You, Lord, and I’ve really got to thank you. Your
devoted ones shall bless You, but don’t let it go to your head.
They shall talk of the glory of Your kingship, and will you look at those two talkers over there! They speak of Your might—from the moment they arrive, right up to Adon Olam.
To inform men of His mighty deeds—and new leadership, that’s what this shul needs—and the glorious majesty of His reign.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom . . . how long has Shimmy Cohen been president? Your dominion is for all generations. Forever!
The Lord supports all who falter; wait, I dropped my siddur, and picks up those who are bent over. Got it.
All lift their eyes to You in hope—do you think I might get an aliyah one of these days?—and You give them their food at the right time. At least there’s a kiddush today.
You open Your hand, and satisfy every living thing with favor. I hope they have some decent Scotch.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways, but you gotta take what the One Above gives, right? And He is kind in whatever He does.
You know why I daven here? The Lord is near to all who call on Him, because there’s a lot of kavanah in this shul, to all who call on Him in truth. Truth is, God runs the world, you know?
He fulfills the wishes of those who respect Him, and we gotta be serious about our davening.
He hears their cry and saves them, but how many people understand that? The Lord looks after all who love Him—Shush yourself!—but all the wicked He destroys.
Hey, they’re at Az Yashir already; how did I get so far behind?
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord and let all creatures bless His holy name forever and ever.
We will bless the Lord now and forever. Praise the Lord.
David Olivestone, former senior communications officer of the Orthodox Union, now lives in Jerusalem where he davens in a very quiet shul.