Sunday, September 20, 2009

Scenes from Rosh Hashanah

As we were about to begin the Malchuyot section of the Musaf today, the Rabbi wisely (I thought) decided to stop the service for a few moments and discuss how difficult it is for us 21st century folks to understand all these references to G-d as King. We don't have a sense of appreciation for the role of king as someone several thousand years ago might have had, or even several hundred years ago. He encouraged us to try to find something we could connect with in the idea of G-d as King. Why I'm not really able to connect with this concept, I was pleasantly surprised that he even brought it up at all. He's a good guy.

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The cantor does a great job of making the melodies go along with and/or contrast with the meaning of the prayers. When he sings of the shofar, you can hear the shofar in his voice. When he sings of a small voice, his voice get small. When he speaks of the majesty of G-d (back to that king thing again...) his voice is majestic. He is also a good guy.

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Yesterday, the Rabbi began his serman with a very potent image: an anima-troic fish. We happen to have this very fish (I was just reminded that it's actually called Big Mouth Billy Bass), and J played with it quite a bit for many years when he was younger. This is the fish -- if you've never seen one -- that looks like a fish mounted on the wall, but if you move near it, it plays either "take me to the river, drop me in the water" or "don't worry, be happy."

In any event, the Rabbi actually invited the Cantor to join him on the bimah, and the two of them sang a few choruses of Don't Worry, Be Happy. It's an image I won't soon forget!

The content of his sermon was also good: it was how you can't expect to be happy every moment, but you can expect to be happy. I thought this was a good message.

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It didn't seem quite as crowded this year as some years, but it still felt like a lot of people. And then there were the characters. There was the man that shushes everyone out in the foyer each year. The head usher who explains in explicit detail how to do an ark opening. The Hebrew school principal chastising the kids in services. There were adults talking, little kids running around and crying, teen girls in very short skirts... It was another Rosh Hashanah.

1 comment:

Trenton Jewish Historical Society said...

We have a teachable moment (if fleeting) to tell the story of Shofar. Its influence on prayer and its historical antecedents going back to the Temple sacrifices.

For full explanation, go to

Shofar Sounders WebPage

Shofar WebPage