Sunday, September 23, 2007

Q&A and Just Chillin'


I now have an answer to Richard’s question of 10 days ago, but better yet I have time to do NOTHING if I so choose once again.

After my repair job on the blue velvet Torah band, Richard raised an interesting question in his comment, which I promised to ask during our “Ask the Rabbi” session yesterday. But when I heard the caliber of the other questions, I chickened out and decided to ask via e-mail instead. So here is the message I sent Toby, our assistant rabbi at Temple Micah, telling her my reluctance to ask my question during the public session:

How can we have fancy silver clasps on the Torah band that I repaired and a breastplate and elaborate Torah finials in light of the commandment not to make any graven image? Is it because we are not worshiping those things?

And she said:

First, thank you for all of your tireless work over the past few months. The High Holy Day experience was fantastic. The whole congregation is grateful to you.

Second, you should never be embarrassed to ask a question.

Here is my first crack at an answer.

The breastplates etc. are reminiscent of many elements that surrounded the ark and the Temple service. The priests wore elaborate garments with detailed breastplates, you may recall the long list of semi-precious stones and colorful yarns that were used in the ark and its surroundings. This, in some way, has to do with the culture of the times. You remember that people had trouble believing in or trusting in Moses, even though he was the clear leader. The priests had to look like a Vegas floor show to command confidence and attention (think of the Egyptian pharoahs whom the people followed previously). Some of this is bringing the Temple service into the diaspora.

There is also an idea in Judaism of beautifying a mitzvah. Look at all of the Jewish objects around your home. You could put eggs and charoset on a paper plate or sit in a plywood hut with a thatched roof but most of us prefer glass or ceramic seder plates and make paper chains for our sukkahs. We want not simply to do the mitzvah but to make it as lovely as possible, showing our care and respect and enhancing our joy at the performance of the deed.

Hope this is a good start.
Have a wonderful, restful day.
Toby

I just came from a wonderful morning with my friend Deborah. After eating homemade blueberry waffles, we started learning a new piece of music: Elgar’s Salut d’Amour, one of those romantic pieces where you luxuriate in every chord. It was hard enough to force us to have several run-throughs, each time working on those sticky measures with the key change or the clef change (for her). I was touched and honored that Deborah and her husband had delayed a sudden trip to Chicago this afternoon for a funeral just so we could play together this morning. Hopefully it was as soothing and beneficial for her as it was for me.

For some reason Chuck Berry’s “No Particular Place to Go” popped into my head. It’s nice just to be chillin’.

6 Comments:

Blogger Kristin said...

"No Particular Place to Go" is a great place to be sometimes.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I'm not good at this. I am already making mental lists of things to do!

8:05 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Chill baby, chill!

8:39 AM  
Blogger steve said...

"I could'nt get her belt a-loose"...i love that song!
Doin' nuthin' ain't easy...nuthin's always seen me through!

1:26 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

That is a great song.

Hmmm ... does not answer my question though. I realize that decorative ornamentation was used (and apparently still is). I just thought it fell into disfavour after Hezekiah's icnoclastic purge.

6:34 PM  
Blogger jackigee said...

Hello, I noticed your info on Dec 11, 2006 in ref to Lisenby Hospital. I was born in that hospital in Jan. 1963 and was trying to get some history and info about the Dr. that delivered me. I still live in Panama City, Fl but have no clue on how to start to get that info, do you have any more info. My email address is jackigee@knology.net. Thank you

12:58 AM  

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