April 9, 2012 Leave a comment
Yom Tov nusaḥ (words + melody of prayer) is one of my favorite synagogue things. Leading shaḥarit (morning services) yesterday was more emotionally challenging for me than I had expected. The first paragraph of Hallel (psalm 113), concludes triumphantly with the following verse:
מושיבי עקרת הבית אם־הבנים שמחה הללו־יה
(He makes the childless housewife a happy mother of children).
This is, of course, the end of a psalm which is specifically talking about how God is great and glorious, but that he is immanent rather than distant. This is the same vibe which permeates ps 147:3-4 as well –
הרפא לשבורי לב ומחבש לעצבותם׃
מונה מספר לכוכבים לכלם שמות יקרא׃
(He heals the broken-hearted, binding up their wounds:
He counts the number of the stars, calling them all by name)
The order of those is significant – we get a clue about God’s priorities, that caring for the grieving is more important than the entire physical universe.
But back to yesterday – I wasn’t ready for the emotional impact of that verse to really hit me in the moment, but it did. All of a sudden, I had an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness and desperation – it hit me that only God’s decision will change the reality in which Sarah and I find ourselves. And in that moment, I felt myself change from singing about God, to singing to God.
Intellectually, I know that requesting prayers aren’t supposed to be said on Shabbat or Yom Tov, but it’s a horse of a different color to actually step outside of that sort of moment.
Besides, if we were really that serious about not making requests, we wouldn’t include things like “And as for me, may my prayer come before you, Lord, in a favorable time – God, in Your great loving-kindness, answer me with Your saving truth.” (ps. 69:13).