Sunday, 30 November 2008

Mark Chants the Torah

As Laini said; this was my day.

What a day it was!

When I entered the synagogue on Shabbat morning, I was greeted by my friend Howard with, “The Chabad House is located on Colley Avenue. I have the address if you want it.

Of course I said, “No, I am in the correct place.” He was joking with me because my dress in black and white made me look more like an Ultra Orthodox rabbi, and he could also see that I was a nervous wreck.

I entered the hall, greeted everyone with, “Shabbat Shalom,” and asked, no I pleaded with Howard to pull the Torah out one more time so that I could practice my portion.

Howard sighed, “I guess so,” he said jokingly.I successfully chanted two of the verses, and thought that I might make it for three with a little more practice, so I pulled out my cheat sheet and started reviewing over and over.

It got to the point that my Beloved had to take the cheat sheet from me, daring me to go into her purse to retrieve it. I would not even think of it as I wanted to save my life!

She kept saying to me, “Remember who you are doing this for. Trust in Ad-nai, which is ironic because that is one of the major themes in Toldot. In this portion, we see Rebecca, and Jacob, deciding that G-d needed help moving his plan along. They were successful, but it came at a very heavy price. Just before the service began, Laini and Howard sang the Soul Train version of the Torah Service for me so that it would help to reduce my nervousness. If a person did not know Howard, they would think that he was the most sacrilegious person in the world, but he actually loves the Torah and Ad-nai very much. He just likes to make people laugh so that they will relax.

He did it for my Beloved last year. She was so nervous that Howard thought she would pass out, so he started singing the Torah Service to the BeeGees song, “Staying Alive.” She laughed so hard, thanking him for his help, but she was about to kill him later when she started singing, “Staying Alive,” on her way to the Bemah. She had to shake her head and will herself to remember what she was about to do. It worked so well for her that he decided to do it for me today. It worked. We finished the litany portion of the service and started the Torah Service. Howard and his daughter approached the Ark and began the different chants that are part of the service. Then Howard called for Jezreel, who ascended the Bemah while Howard’s daughter opened the Ark. Howard took hold of the Torah and lifted it out, lovingly placing it on Jezreel’s shoulder. Jezreel then walked the Torah to the microphone and began the Responsive Shemah. Afterwards, he began the Torah procession while I made my way to the back of the synagogue. After the Torah was brought up to the reading table, Howard called out my name: Yamod Yehuda Dovid ben Ya’acov la Torah... That means, “Yehuda, come approach the Torah.” Almost without thinking I made my forward, praying all the way that Ad-nai would be pleased with my efforts and would bless them. Now I am at the Bemah, the Torah is uncovered, and Howard showed me the start of my portion. I took my tzitzit , touched the scroll, and brought them to my lips, kissing them. I grabbed the handles, and that is when the nervousness hit! I forced myself to concentrate. I had worked three weeks on this portion. I read the blessing; I belted it out loudly and clearly. Then I took the Scriptures and read the portion in English that I was about to chant in Hebrew. Laini smiled, handed me the Yod, and shook her head in affirmation. There I was, pointing at the Torah, trying to remember how the chant began, and then... When it was finished, everyone told me that I had chanted my portion beautifully, and they really liked the tune I used. Whew! Baruch HaShem! Thank you, Ad-nai

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