Friday, March 19, 2010

Bar none

In honor of the 43rd annivesary of my Bar Mitzvah, which occurred yesterday, I have elected to do something either very brave or very stupid. I have decided to sing the two most difficult parts of the service I sang those two score and three years ago at my regular worship services tomorrow at Congregation Beth Israel. These consist of the Maftir, or final Torah reading, and the Haftorah, the reading from the Prophets. To say these two pieces are difficult is an understatement. Without including the opening or closing prayers, the Haftorah runs over eight and a half minutes long and is marked by specific cantillation marks that must be sung exactly right. While the Maftir is not nearly as long, it must be read entirely from the Torah scroll from memory and without any helpful punctuation or cantillation marks and is an entirely different melody. I am understandably concerned about misproununciations and singing off key, which is likely to happen given my present state of mind and busy schedule. I ask myself how in the world did I do this when I was only 13? Was I that much better a singer? (Maybe) Did I have a better head for memorization? (Probably) Can I be fearless and tackle this with great resolve and determination? (Unlikely at best) It has gotten to be such a problem for me that I am now trying to think of inventive ways to bow out gracefully. Suppose I broke a leg, for example. How about being needed for some Scouting event? But no. The rabbi and the gabbi are both not letting me get out of it. After all, they remind me, I volunteered in the first place and there's no one else to back me up at this late time. So, here I stand on the precipice looking down at the valley below, knowing in my heart there is no salvation for me, but to take this literal leap of faith. However battered and bruised I will be, I'm hopeful I will survive my ordeal. I'll let you know on the other side, but in the meantime, say a prayer for me.

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