Mizmor, a psalm, a melody. What a familiar word in prayer service. Many of us are familiar with the Mizmor L’David prayer when we carry the Torah around as part of the Torah service. According to tradition, King David was the author of many of these psalms. As a matter of fact, most of our prayers have melodies. Why? Why do we have to have melodies to prayers, why not just say them? Why singing? Last week my family spent Friday night dinner with a few couples. After dinner we began singing. Each couple had a different background growing up–some of us grew up in America while others grow up in Chile, Argentina or Israel. Some of us went to Camp Swig, while others to Young Judaea or Solomon Shechter. But when it came to singing, it felt like we went to the same camp. We sang and sang and were overjoyed. One song led to another and before we knew it, thirty minutes had passed! What does singing, or music do to you? Even if you are not a born singer, does music affect your soul?
Biblically, music has a place of honor in our tradition. While King David played on the harp to lift Saul’s mood (before he became the king), Miriam sang with a tambourine immediately after the Children of Israel crossed the Sea of Reeds. Deborah, the prophetess, sang as Sisra was killed, not to mention all the Levites singing in the Temple as they carried out the Levites’ role. If you attend services of any kind, you can attest that music is as needed today as the words we say. We even chant (not read or recite) the Torah. Music puts us in the mood of receiving God’s instruction. It feeds our soul in ways that nothing else can. Just look at all the music apps that are available to us: Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play. I am sure I am forgetting others! It is fascinating to watch Alzheimer patients who do not remember their families at all, but will know the words and sing to a melody of the past. When I arrived to America, thirty years ago, I was privileged to be asked to join a singing group. 18 women including me! Oh, what a joyous experience that was (we even went to the beach for a weekend as our yearly retreat to bond and sing more)!
A couple weeks ago I decided to add the song of the week to my email blast–you can look at it as my small token of appreciation to all of you my readers! If you are not receiving my emails, feel free to subscribe using my website. Music has always elevated my soul when I was sad, it picked me up, and when I was happy it made me joyful beyond measure. This week’s choice is Modeh Ani- “I thank you for returning my soul to me, for the clothes that you dress me so I am not cold. You guard me. I thank you for my existence, for the bread that I eat so I do not experience hunger. I thank you for my talents my failures and my fears—for all that and more I thank you.” By the women’s group, Hallel
I am looking forward to teaching my eight-week class elucidating the concepts about my upcoming book, Moments of the Heart—what a pleasure it is for me to explore the concepts of the book with others, at Congregation Neveh Shalom starting on January 8th. It will be super-nourishing for your soul!
Click here to register on-line or click here to email JoAnn or call the office at 503-246-8831.
And if it’s not the right time for you, I offer you several easy ways to connect with me to find similar nourishment—from my online classes, to my book, to studying with me!
Have a blessed day!