Enough about gadgets. After a week or two without any Torah readings looming, I am now overwhelmed—in a good way, of course. I was a convincing voice of the donkey, although got a little lost in the previous aliyah when lines I had expected to see at the bottom of a column showed up instead at the top of the next one. I tried, as always, to psych myself out in anticipation of this scenario, and learned from two different tikkunim with different patterns of line breaks. I figured one of the two would match the scroll, but when it didn't—when a word I expected to find down below suddenly jumped to line one, and I realized that I associated its melody with a state of being on the bottom—I got lost. Both the rabbi to my left and hazzan over in the corner started to sing, but all I heard was pretty cacophony; they were using different versions of the trop. But I was comforted, as always, by their immediate rescue, that sense of being always safe, always accompanied during this nervous journey of words. It gave me confidence to fake my way through the line until I recognized a friendly old word with a distinctive trop, to which I rushed like a drowning person to a life raft. Thereafter I remained on track.
After a few hours of feeling bad, I realized it wasn't a big deal. (The hazzan said so, too, after I apologized.) Still, I'll be happier once I find, on the advice of my old teacher, another tikkun with line breaks different from the two I own, as well as from the various tikkun websites. Meanwhile, I'm almost done learning a section for next week, lots of numbers, what fun. I'll also be very busy on Tisha Be-Av: the chapter of Eikha I've chanted for the last two years, and haftarah the following afternoon, as on every Tisha Be-Av since I first learned it in 2003. And that same morning, the long Torah reading I apparently did three years ago (here's proof!), although little of it remains in my brain. I'll also chant it the following Shabbat, when those three aliyot plus some more lines make up one whopping aliyah. I'm hoping a dormant memory will be shaken awake as I start to practice over the next week or so.
I, too, am preparing for Tisha B'av. This year, I've been thinking about the munahs that open the book. Their ornate melody elevates this lowly servant, this conjunction so simple that, like tofu, it usually takes on the flavor of its stronger companions. Here, the notes are almost regal, as if in the wake of deep loss we embrace the conjunction because it is all that remains and keeps us, well, joined, to what came before.
That is a beautiful analogy, and I will think about it while I sing words too painful to utter except in song. Thank you, and also for stopping by!
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