DAY 762: Shabbat By the Sea — Wordless Music

August 1, 2014
By bethmordecai
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DAY 762: Shabbat By the Sea — Wordless Music

This is the third of a 3 part journal series previewing different aspects of this Friday night’s special Shabbat by the Sea — Family and Community Edition. The theme for this journal is: wordless music.

Dear Hevreh,

When I was in Israel, I spent some time learning in a small one-room orthodox yeshiva in which the long table which acted as a m’hitzah separating the men from the women. However, the rosh yeshiva allowed for special sessions just for non-orthodox rabbinical students in which this restriction was discarded. The reason? Learning, unlike prayer, is more open to all.

When I was in New York I participated in an interseminary dialogue group with eight different Jewish and Christian seminaries (four each). We spent a good amount of time learning text, but we would never pray together. Why? Probably because learning, unlike prayer, is more open to all.

We can walk into spaces that may seem foreign to us and, without sacrificing our own uniqueness, be able to learn from the other. Listening to and understanding someone’s beliefs is not the same as believing them yourself, and I think this is why learning in interdenominational and interfaith settings is easier than prayer: when you learn, you seek to understand one’s beliefs; when you pray, you seek to express your own.

Whether it’s because of how we pray (i.e. men and women together), or what we pray (i.e. the words of prayer) it seems that much of our divisions — within Judaism and between Judaism and other faiths — is centered around our prayer life. It is the divisions based on prayer that more often not form the borders between who is and who is outside our communities.

But what if we were to remove one of the most important yet divisive elements from prayer and song? What if we removed the words/lyrics that represent our own uniqueness when we sing them ourselves, but are foreign to others? What if we simply let the music, the inherentniggun embedded within spiritual music, shine through? Would we be able to pray, or at least sing, together if our prayers and songs were wordless?

That is the question we will try to answer with God’s Army Ministries at tonight’s special music celebration, The Niggunafter ice cream (7:30 pm). Join us as we enjoy the power and security of wordless music as we learn to sing together.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ari Saks

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