Monday, May 26, 2008

680. Retreat, rebuke

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.

No comments: