I've been thinking lately about the scale of my prayer. Scale in the sense of size, not musical notes—the space of the stage upon which my supplications are offered. Prayer at morning minyan is small, intimate, and personal. Kabbalat Shabbat, on the other hand, is noisy, giddy, and massive; I think the volume of all our voices together catches God's attention more than the intensity of any particular one. (Not that individuals are lost in the crowd. But the spiritual force of the group as a whole becomes as singular, and powerful, as that of any one person.) This Friday I'll be helping to lead a mediation service, singing the few lines we chant in unison when not sitting in silence or listening to the rabbi's kavannot ("intentions," suggestions for the direction of our prayer). I've participated in these services for about a year; at first they made me very uncomfortable. I didn't see the point. Shabbat should be welcomed with fanfare; how could I properly mark its arrival without music to herald the dramatic switch from ordinary to sacred time? The ritual, absent the key that opened these doors for me in the first place, would be incomplete.
(Continued in this post.)