Sunday, November 07, 2010

Space between the Notes

I come away from most Shabbat services at Temple Micah with something to think about.  Our rabbi Esther opened yesterday's service with this:

A great pianist was once asked by an ardent admirer: “How do you
handle the notes as well as you do?”  The artist answered: “The notes
I handle no better than many pianists, but the pauses between the
notes—ah! That is where the art resides.”

In great living, as in great music, the art may be in the pauses.
Surely one of the enduring contributions which Judaism made to the art
of living was the Shabbat, “the pause between the notes.” And it is
to the Shabbat that we must look if we are to restore to our lives the
sense of serenity and sanctity which Shabbat offers in such joyous

—Likrat Shabbat (Gates of Shabbat)

That great pianist happened to be Debussy. I'm playing his Deux Arabesques and The Girl with the Flaxen Hair right now. The latter piece relies on those pauses, making you feel like you will wait forever to hear how he chooses to resolve a chord or hear where a melody is going.

Last night we ended Shabbat with a Thai cooking extravaganza.  There were 8 of us (all Temple Micah friends) who rolled up our sleeves and got out our woks. The house smelled heavenly.  Each dish was quite special and for David and me reminded us of our recent Thai cooking classes.

But perhaps the best of the evening was the post-dinner entertainment when our friend Danny got out his guitar and took requests. He played songs from The Beatles, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and so many more. The value of having an autistic savant as one of our other guests was HE KNEW ALL THE WORDS; if he had ever heard the song before, he could sing it with the right accent, never missing a beat or a word.  There was not a lot of space between the notes last night, but we felt a great warmth in the harmonies and tunes that ushered out yet another Shabbat.


Blogger Kristin said...

What a lovely evening! I'm not sure if those were the notes or the spaces between 'em but it sounds wonderful.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I love evenings like that. The best we can do at the moment is after or before dinner gather around our player piano and sing. I really love that. And one of these days I will be able to play something with my hands instead of my feet. Funny you mention pauses becasue that is what was giving me the trouble at my last lesson - when to lift up on the keys and allow the silence between the notes.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Food, friends, music...sounds just wonderful.


1:39 PM  
Blogger e said...

Sounds like you had a great time!

9:30 PM  

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