Welcome to everyone visiting via Simply Jews and Haveil Havalim #177*, the Jewish Blog Carnival. Once in a blue moon I submit a post, and am honored to have been included. And please check out all the other great links in this issue.
Meanwhile, Torah chanting made a rare appearance in last week's New York Times "Metropolitan Diary"!
In a sweltering August more than 25 years ago, on a long subway ride with no seat available, I stood holding onto a rail. With my free hand I held up my Hebrew Torah text.
In the early ’80s it was still somewhat novel for women to chant from the Torah. My husband, then a young rabbi, had recruited me to chant all the Torah readings for the High Holy Day pulpit he had signed on for in Texas. And, indeed, preparing all that chanting was a Texas-size task!
As I mumbled along, singsonging the ancient words, I glanced up and saw an Orthodox Jewish man doing precisely the same thing. Our nanosecond of bonding was followed by the fellow’s look of extreme confusion, as he quickly refocused his eyes on his text.
The poor guy. I often wonder: Did he tell anyone of this moment of worlds colliding?
I could have written this paragraph, too. Then again, I often will not take out my Xeroxed Torah portion to study on the subway if I see an obviously fervently Orthodox man standing nearby. I'm trying to be respectful; I don't want to make the ride uncomfortable for him. On the other hand--I'm proud of chanting, and completely free to read anything I want in a public place. I'm harming no one by looking at a piece of paper. I have no reason to feel bad. But I do, and generally err on the side of this particular manifestation of shalom bayit, i.e. shalom subway.
* From Kohelet: "Vanity of vanities."