Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rosh Hashanah -- Thursday

Wednesday night, as you read from an earlier post, was a warm and wonderful evening for us (and by us, I really mean me, but I know it also extends to othes who experienced the same thing).

Thursday morning was Rosh Hashanah.  I was really looking forward to this for several reasons.  First, Chandler was singing and I always love to hear the BA Zimarim sing. They sound beautiful.  Secondly, Rabbi Rose was going to try something a little different, for which I have been longing.  The traditional Rosh Hashanah sermon is not my cup of tea, and I have always felt that the real Rabbi Rose does not come across in that venue.  He is not a stand-at-the-pulpit-on-the-bima kind of rabbi.  Lastly, last year we practically missed the holidays.  Rob's sister was diagnosed with colon cancer and was having surgery. She had almost died just days earlier from internal bleeding and it was a frozen moment in time trying to process what was going on.  We had much more important matters at hand, and we were scared.  This year, I feel like we are in a better space, ready for the holidays even if they did sneak up on us quickly.

It started a little strange.  We always sit behind Perlmutter.  The seats were packed and I had to it on the other end of the same row as him.  I am such an old lady!  Davening was good.  There is always that lack-of-energy factor at the holidays because so many of us don't know all the holiday tunes and large number don't really know the service.  However, I have a little trick of focusing in on someone or some group that is davening and using that energy to my advantage.  So, if you were davening and thought I was staring at you, I may have initially been doing that!

The "sermon" started with honey candies being passed out along with some literature to study.  Rabbi Rose came down for the bima and we had a beit midrash (study hall).  I love to study, and so this was right up my alley.  There were a lot of different directions and angles that I could express but let me start with the base. 

The base is this:  Maimoiades and Rambam (or Ramban, I get them confused, sorry!).  One says we are obligated to pray every day.  Another says we are only required to pray in times of crisis or need. Of course, with the three days of holidays and such, I can't remember which positioned which viewpoint.  Regardless, the handout sourced their arguments to support each of their viewpoints. 

Then along comes Rabbi Soloveitchick (or at least that is who I think he said).  As you may remember, I saw a documentary about him last year. It was showing at WashU, and I really learned a lot about this brilliant man.  So, along comes Rabbi Soloveitchick.  He says they are both right, just coming from different places so each sees the same thing slightly differently.  We are only obligated to pray in times of need or crisis, but that we are always in a state of need and therefore should pray every day.

Rabbi Rose gave a personal story that was humorous but made the point that often others who are not Jewish ask Rabbi Rose to pray with them, but that it is not something Jews usually request of him.  Our congregation was just coming off a weeked of intense prayer-learning with our guest speaker, Rabbi Mike Comins.  He stressed that prayer is transforming.  It can transform you.  Rabbi Rose wove into this learning session these themes around prayer, our being in a perpetual state of crisis, and the opportunity we have to take advantage of prayer.

There is so much more to what he taught but I don't seem to be able to do it justice.  This summary was just a small part of what we learned, and a small part of what Rabbi Rose shared with us.

My point in this is that this was not the sterile message from the bima.  It was living, breathing.  And it was my rabbi -- the one I know and love -- doing what he does best.  All those shul-goers who do not usually come to services finally got a glimpse into what BA is like on any given Shabbat, and the potential for growth that we are all capable of and perhaps can be cultivated through learning with our rabbi.

1 comment:

Barefoot in the Kitchen said...

He was right. "Pray without ceasing" said Sha'ul of the New Testament. He was trained under Gamaliel in the school of Hillel.