Where was I this last weekend?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/09/09 02:15 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/09/08/462791.aspx

As I mentioned earlier when I posed the question Where's Michael, there were some people who were a little worried about what happened to me when I appeared to be gone for a few days.

I was at my cousin Julie's, because her two oldest kids (Sarah and Brian) had their Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah, respectively.

It was a very interesting visit, and not just because she is one of my favorite cousins, and also not just because Sarah and Brian did such great jobs! :-)

I had the chance to see a few of the more recent innovations in the Shabbat services of some congregations:

At first I kind of fought these changes, mentally. I mean, I am used to different tunes for songs and I have never heard the exact same service in two different synagogues (heck, I usually would not even hear the exact same service in one synagogue on separate weeks!).

But then I thought about it -- there is honestly no harm in the insertion of the foremothers. (though perhaps it would be more meaningful to me if it were a bit more targeted -- the actual additions were done across the board with the wife being named severy time the husband was, rather than being done based on the actual meanings of the words in the various prayers -- which to me indicates that it has more to do with equal rights between the sexes than a real attempt to extend the prayers).

Now to be snarky for just one more moment, I don't think everyone who was there necessarily knows Hebrew fluently enough to judge the literary aspects. I really do not see a problem in the particular innovation, and it does not destroy any of the meaning of the prayers.

And when I think about the additional reading, my father's point at the time seemed quite relevant -- that a lot of the congregation would not end up going to both Friday night and Saturday morning services, so that the Friday night reading meant that more people would be able to hear it. And that is not a bad thing at all.

There are several readings during the week that are done, originally on days that people would traditionally be going to the market so they were in town. Clearly that 'innovation' has a pretty earthbound, secular basis, and I am sure there were people who felt at the time that it was somehow a betrayal of the higher purpose of reading from the Torah to do the readings just because people were there. But everyone really got over that, to the point where today it is the most devout, traditional Jews who will be there on Mondays and Thursdays for Torah readings. So clearly the additional reading has a somewhat holy precedent, even if it does indeed have a somewhat secular basis.

So when I think of my initial reaction, I realize that it is not that different than the more traditional folks I talked about when I talked about how Good things can happen when religious authorities work with science and technology. I was not really judging anyone in that post, but I had mentally placed myself in that "flexible" category of people who are willing to rethink traditions when there is a reasonable cause to do so. And even then, at my first chance to perhaps prove that I have that kind of flexibility, I prove that my instinct is to fight against it!

Ah well, there would be nothing wrong with me if I had chosen to not be so accepting, anyway. These two "shocks" made it easier to handle when they sang Adon Olam to the tune of Deep in the Heart of Texas. :-)


This post brought to you by "ץ" (U+05e5, a.k.a. HEBREW LETTER FINAL TSADI, a.k.a. TSADI SOFIT)

# Michael S. Kaplan on 9 Sep 2005 8:27 AM:

Peter, a colleague on the GIFT team responded to my OOO email asking if that I was really at a Bar and Bat Mitzvah for the weekend whether it meant I admitted that I was going to briefly be at a Bat Mitzvah and then spend the rest of the time in an establishment that sells liquor (a bar).


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