Sunday, May 03, 2009
A Minyan Moment
היום ארבעה ועשרים יומים שהם שלשה שבועות ושלשה יומים לעמר
Today is the twenty-fourth day of the omer - three weeks and three days
A day of compassion in a week of endurance
This morning, as is often the case, Jackie brought her two little boys, Aaron and Joshua, to minyan. We (the minyan) first met Jackie when she came to say kaddish for her father about 6 years ago. Her father died a couple of weeks before Aaron was born, and he became a minyan regular as Jackie brought him with her during that year. The whole family, including Craig, Jackie's husband, and of course Joshua when he arrived 3(or is it 4?) years ago, have become an integral part of our Beth Sholom community. Jackie lost her mother 11 months ago, and has been saying kaddish once again, this time often with both boys in tow.
This morning, while Aaron was in the meeting room, probably telling Addison, one of our facility caretakers, some of his newly learned and/or created jokes, Joshua came in to the chapel. He stood on the bench in the back next to his mom and began to focus on the stained glass windows that form the wall in that part of the chapel. There are two vertical banners with some sort of letters, possibly some version of Cyrillic text. (If you click on the photo on the right--taken this past February--you'll see that pane on the right side of the frame.)
Joshua recognized the "squiggles" as letters, and when we were at the part of the service where we pray quietly to ourselves, he began to sing the alphabet song in his sweet, little boy voice.
It was one of those classic minyan moments that will live in the annuls of Beth Sholom history. We all smiled, and before we finished up, I shared with the group the Hasidic story of the child who comes to synagogue with his dad. He wants to join in the prayers, but doesn't know the words. All he knows of Hebrew is the Aleph-Bet, and so he recites that. His father is embarrassed, apologizes to the rabbi for his son's ignorance. But the rabbi, understanding what was coming from the young boy's soul, reassured the parent: "Don't worry, God will take the letters and arrange them into to the prayers that come from your boy's heart."
Many of us felt that Joshua was doing his own davening, saying his prayers, and we were glad he could share them with us. And we need to remember that we all have the capacity to say our prayers, have those conversations with God, with the Transcendent, with that Universal Spirit. As long as the words come from our hearts, they will be heard.