Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thursday Kavvanah, 6/2/2011 - Stereophonic tefillot

Tuesday's kavvanah pointed to the obligation to take action; echoing Dr. Arnold Eisen's words to the Cantors Assembly, being Jewish means to do something, and that is our role in this world.

But all the moreso, to be Jewish means to learn. Dr. Eisen created a wonderful image for the roomful of cantors about the ideal tefillah (prayer) situation: stereo headphones. That is, in one ear, the participant in a service should hear the prayers themselves, the ancient liturgy, the Hebrew formulas and melodies that constitute tefillah. In the other ear, s/he would hear the history, the context, the development, the structure, and all the things that make tefillot leap off the page and into reality.

Simply reciting the words is not enough; we have to be engaged with them as well. Dr. Eisen's image is not a literal one. His point is, rather, that those who come to pray need to be properly equipped, or the words are just words, the melody is just singing. And that's not tefillah.

We need to be committed to davening in stereo.

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