I didn't know what was going on, even though I had been though this once a year every year at the High Holidays. There was the standing prayer, the Amidah, which we called the Shemonah Esrei back in Hebrew school. Then the Torah reading, where everyone would get an aliyah--an honor, an ascent. The last time I thought about this word was as a kid watching families go up to the Ark during Rosh Hashonah services. My mother explained that they had given money to the synagogue, and I wondered if they had to move to Israel now, as well--isn't that what "make aliyah" meant? I decided I never wanted an aliyah, because I liked living in New York. (I wisely kept the concern to myself on this particular morning.)
The rabbi invited all those on the retreat for the first time to come up and recite the blessing. As a not very good Jew for a very long time, I wondered if my presence would somehow diminish the validity of the moment. But almost everyone was walking to the front, so I joined them. A woman put the edge of her tallit around my shoulder; I had never touched one before, even though I watched my father, until I was ten, wrap it around himself like a cape every morning. We read from a card and then stood behind a man who chanted from the open scroll, which I was afraid to come near for fear of inadvertently tampering with its holiness. Then we said another blessing, and I understood that the words in the scroll had been read on my behalf, to commemorate my appearance in this place.
This morning I read ahead in my meditation book, Sacred Intentions, to June 5th and it reminded me of this entry you wrote. The meditation is from the Talmud, where while we are in the womb the angles teach us the entire torah. and when we are born, the angel touches our lips and we forget what we have learned. The commentary goes on to point out that all the wisdom of the Torah lies within us, hidden in the deep recesses of our being. At birth we begin a new process and recovering that which is within us.
This made me think of you, that you have it all inside and you are "remembering" , how beautiful for you. We should all remember.
That is one of my favorite teachings, and reading your description of it has left me without words...thank you so much.
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