Chanting Torah under Duress
Summer services at Temple Micah are lay-led, giving ordinary people like me a chance to lead or chant the Torah or Haftarah. Today I chanted from Deuteronomy, but not under quite the scenario I was expecting.
Instead of the congregation being a handful of the faithful and predictable, it was dominated by the friends and relatives of a very young baby Isabella, who was there to be named. There were scads of very young children.
The baby’s immediate family of mom, dad, brother, and sister (with all children under the age of 3) were on the bimah with me to do the first aliyah. As I started to chant, some sort of tantrum ensued behind me which got louder and more distracting with my every word. It took all my efforts of concentration to make it to the end of that 7 verses, with a few mistakes being corrected by my “safety net” Teddy, our music director.
I realized that all the weeks I had been practicing my portion, I had been at home in the company of a sleeping dog, nothing to compete with the bedlam that I experienced this morning.
The baby naming occurred after the first aliyah. It was a lovely affair and the baby was much better behaved than either of her siblings. I must say I was relieved to see that entourage leave the bimah.
The second half was relatively uneventful and then it was over. I had made a deal with myself to dwell on the parts that had beautiful melodies and quickly forget the parts that I stumbled over. I was true to my resolve and people were commendable of my chanting after the fact.
Chanting from the Torah is a privilege I always look forward to. I miss the regimen of practice when it is over. That’s the time when I begin to look for another opportunity.