Thursday, October 09, 2008

Even God Must Be Tired

The past 24 hours has been like a religious marathon. I have prayed and sung until my voice is hoarse and I have had a lot of time to contemplate all this holiday conjures up. Needless to say I am tired and just a little overstimulated. Here are some random moments:

Last night I watched my husband stand up in front of 1200 people and sing the Kol Nidre, a beautiful haunting Aramaic melody that has been sung around the world on the eve of Yom Kippur for hundreds of years. Just as he takes everything seriously, he had been preparing for quite a while, listening to every version he could find on the Internet. His rich bass voice was strong and confident, without a hint of the stage fright I would have experienced.

Today started with a choir member who was placing the Torahs in the ark falling on the marble steps of the church where we hold our High Holy Day services and breaking her leg in three places. She’s a single woman in her 60's. The choir will surely rally around to take care of her as she recuperates from surgery performed later today.

The early afternoon “Ask the Rabbi” session was a lively Q&A on anything and everything. I weighed in on a discussion of why Christian children seem to be more comfortable with the idea of spontaneous prayer. My point was that we need to make sure Jewish children get the message that it is not necessary to know Hebrew to pray to God and that their English words and thoughts are quite adequate. (Thanks, Adrianne, for making me think about prayer earlier this week.)

Another line from the Q&A’s was this quote from our rabbi Toby: In Judaism you are obligated to tell what you know if that’s going to change the situation. I’ve sent her an e-mail to try to clarify when this applies and when it doesn’t. I’m assuming it does NOT mean that if you find someone cheating on his wife, you should tell the wife! I’m sure I’ll get a very long and rational explanation from Toby, as always.

A last topic from the Q&A’s was sparked by a congregant’s observation about how hard it is to put everything we are commanded to do or not do into practice. Toby mentioned the prohibition against gossip as an example. She cited writings by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin wherein he suggests that gossip be allowed between spouses or between two best friends, observing that most people can’t go for more than an hour without gossiping.

The Yizkor (memorial) service provides a time for people to think about those who have passed away. The choir sang the 23rd Psalm from Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, simply gorgeous music.

The closing service included a time for anyone who wanted to come forward and pray silently in front of the Torahs in the open ark. I watched a dear friend who was recently diagnosed with advanced lung cancer approach the ark to pray and felt my eyes go a little teary.

Havdalah marks the end of Yom Kippur and turns the somber feeling of death into a joyous feeling of life as everyone links arms and sways to the familiar melodies while the braided candle burns. Danny had called anyone who had had a bar/bat mitzvah at Temple Micah to come to the bimah to celebrate Havdalah. The bright faces on that array of young people gave me such a feeling of hope in the future.

By the end at 6:30 PM, those who have fasted all day are indeed tired, hungry, and thirsty. Everyone is anxious to join friends at a break-the-fast to mark the end of this year’s High Holy Days.

I can’t imagine there will be that many people at Friday night or Saturday services this week since we have all put in overtime praying recently.

Tonight I am tired, but I have a feeling of being squeaky clean. I’m ready for 5769, the next year in Jewish numbering.


Blogger Kristin said...

I'm still trying to reconcile my mind to the fact that all these things happened in such a short period. I'm exhausted just reading about it.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- The good news is we don't kneel when we pray! It was actually a very intense but rewarding time spent with people who are like our second family!

8:44 AM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

Being raised a Protestant, I always think of Catholics and Jewish folks as not really praying.
I wasn't taught that or anything, but ya'll have a lot of scripted prayers, more than a Methodist say, or even a Presbyterian maybe, so I just never thought of ya'll as saying a prayer where you extemporaneously fall to your knees and start makin' stuff up.
Thats prayin'!

4:55 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bulletholes -- I have come to realize they are both forms of praying, but very different. I grew up with a more reserved version of the fall-on-your-knees-and-let-it-rip kind of praying in the Presbyterian Church. I now see the value of both. For me the formulaic prayers are for public praying, but I say whatever I want in private and it's definitely not in Hebrew. Fortunately God is multi-lingual!

5:21 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I wouldn't have believed it a year ago, but truth is, I can go far longer than an hour without gossiping. It's just a habit - a bad and hurtful habit - easier to give up than dark chocolate for sure.

10:16 AM  

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