(Yom Kippur 5766, continued.)
We faced east to pray the Amidah. I felt angry, and was unsure why. This past year had been difficult, but extraordinarily lucky. I had life, health, and hope; really, what more is there? Maybe I was confusing anger with frustration; I was about to talk to God very loudly, in front of a thousand people, but would be so wired and tired that I'd probably sing words and not sentences, notes and not melodies. Here I was so close to the source of answers but suddenly inarticulate, the questions I had formulated all month long in a jumble. I was annoyed at God for requiring us to follow a plan this day that diminished our ability to understand and think clearly just at that instant when, parched and spent after a long struggle, we finally reached the top of the mountain.
The Torah reading was next. The rabbi looked out from the stage and beckoned me over--why? Ne'ila wasn't for another hour. Then the other shaliach tzibur sat down and I realized she needed a gabbai sheni, which I had been that very morning, and so was now a pro. Of course, I hadn't looked at this Torah portion since last Yom Kippur. I ran up front shadowed by the massive, remonstrating finger of God now hovering like a dark cloud; a gabbai is required to be familiar with the reading, and I was about to stand there under false pretenses. On the other hand, I had been busy these past few weeks with the important tasks of learning Ne'ila and investigating every cold remedy known to mankind. I decided I had practiced enough contrition for the day, and hoped God would take a raincheck. I would study the portion later. Really.