Monday, November 27, 2006

What's it like up there?

In the comments to Is there a cantor in the house?, Migdalor Guy wrote

I'm always thrilled when congregants get the opportunity to walk a mile in the mocassins of those of us who spend our lives on the bimah. What lessons did you take away, other than your gratefulness to be out of the limelight next Shabbat?

That I had no opportunity to feel prayerful or in any way spiritual. I was entirely focused on getting cues right and where I should stand and whether I was using the mike correctly. And whether I was singing the right notes and pronouncing the words right.

As an officer of my shul, I sit on the bimah fairly regularly (at least twice a month and sometimes more often.) I'm there to make announcements on Friday night or to give a bar or bat mitzvah their certificate and some coupons for things like a year's teen membership at the local JCC and part of the cost of a Birthright or youth group first trip to Israel.

I'm focused on the mechanics of those functions when I'm doing them, but during the rest of the service, I'm able to feel like I'm actively worshipping.

(I also kvell a little if the bar/bat mitzvah is someone I tutored. And sing a wee bit louder at parts I know they've found challenging, so they can hear my unmiked voice over their right shoulder if they need some back-up.)

But as emergency back-up cantor, I got none of the spiritual charge I get from praying. I did get an incredible sense of pride at being asked (and trusted) to step into the breach, and the gratification I get --- as the planet's foremost kosher ham --- from just being "on stage". I'd do it again, in a New York minute, if asked.

But it made me appreciate even more what our Rabbi and Cantor do for us, week in and week out. And it made me wonder where they get their moments to just pray, and connect with the solace and rejuvenation that I get from prayer.

I'm pretty darn sure it's not at the interminable committee meetings and board meetings we attend together, or the fifty-seven other mundane minutiae we demand that they tend to every day.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post! As the spouse of a rabbi, I appreciate your insight and comments. Mr. EK and I talk all the time about this. He wouldn't change his job; he loves it. At the same time, he does wish he could pray in a more meaningful way more often. I would love to reprint your post on my blog, email me at ezerknegdo at gmail dot com. Kol ha-kavod!

Migdalor Guy said...

Bingo, Dan You hit the nail on the head. Where do those who labor to create a meaningful worship experience for others get their meaningful worship experiences from.

I can say, from my own experience, that sometimes you really can transcend the mechanics, worrying about the microphones, the cues, the distractions, and find yourself, even in the midst of helping to lead a congregation in prayer, transported to a different plane. Those times are all too rare, however.

David in DC said...

Who's Dan?