The retreat was great--thought-provoking, challenging, at times painful, but also inspiring, and full of love and amazing women. I should have known better than to hold pre-conceived notions about anything that goes on at my synagogue. As I learned that lesson, I was also glad to have time to think about this recent one while away from usual surroundings. I felt bad not only about being scolded, but also about admitting to myself that respected teachers can have bad days just like anyone else. I believe the response was disproportionate to the severity of my mistake. So be it; onward.
Even the best of us can rush to anger. In this past week's Torah portion, Behukotai, God scolds the Israelites and threatens all sorts of scary and overwrought punishments. As I listened to verses read quickly and in a whisper (so they would be over with as soon as possible, although we broke tradition by giving the aliyah to congregants; generally the rabbi takes it because no one else wants to), I looked down and noticed my yad on the pew, waiting for me to carry it up to the bima and chant. The yad usually makes me smile, a reminder of my sweet friends, the goodness of what it will soon underline, and the general silliness of the idea of a little finger at the end of a skinny silver stick. On Shabbat morning, however, it seemed to point in reproof: "J'accuse!" (In Hebrew. I don't think it speaks French.) It focused like a laser at my sins of needless worry, excessive work, and not breathing in enough late spring, honeysuckle-scented air. It demanded I chill out or suffer the consequences, the inability to enjoy a really great Shabbat. I was so surprised by its audacity that I didn't remember to be nervous as I stood at the bima, and forgot my fear of stumbling over the the trop of seven p'sukim out of ten that began with "im" ["if"], all with a different melody on that word. I also got the choreography right this time around. The rabbi still didn't look very happy, but the yad managed to gets its message across while shining as bright as always.