The haftarah was very, very long, much longer than I remembered, probably because I had been too asleep in past years to notice. The teenagers struggled; the rabbi stood behind them and prompted gently. They finally sat, relieved, and she gave her d'var Torah, a strong, hopeful entreaty to learn from past voices in our community. She finished, and beckoned me back up on stage to lead Ne'ila.
For the past month I've been trying to figure out just what I felt at those moments, and I think I now have the words. I once had a client who refused to pay for my designs, blatantly ignoring our contract. We hired lawyers; we finally settled, after much unpleasantness, without his admission of guilt. I endured this annoying ordeal in a state of righteous indignation, gaining new understanding of the phrase "banging one's head against a wall." How, I wondered, could he look at me and not see me? How could he not grasp that I was right and he was completely, utterly wrong? I wanted to shout it to the trees, take an ad out in the Times, stop every single person walking down the street and shake them by the shoulders--Listen! Isn't it obvious? Tell him, now! Maybe he'll pay attention to you.
This was what I felt during Ne'ila, this very mundane comparison to the world of work, a connection I made tonight at services as the rabbi spoke about injustice and determination. Not that God, or man, has ever wronged me; quite the opposite. I know I'm one of the luckiest people on this planet. But that feeling of, you must pay attention now--I deserve it, I need it, where are you, where have you been?--filled me like a river as I began to sing the final set of prayers for the day. I think I expected to see some great light of revelation after all those hours of fasting and emotional exhaustion. But there was only a sense of being ordinary, and frustrated.