Sunday, January 15, 2012

No raspberries in the Torah

Last week, during the rehearsal for our adult b'nai mitzvah next week, I had a panic attack while reading the Torah.  I didn't realize it until the next day, when I said to someone, "When I was reading the Torah, I got all flushed and sweaty and couldn't breathe or think."  I had thought it was some sort of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" God moment.

I had had the same experience last time I faced the Torah for the first time to chant a passage, last summer.  I figured that this was a repeat, that something like a divine wind, a ruach, would rise from the Torah and strike me every time I approached it for a new reading.  After the initial experience, the Torah turns back into a fairly normal awesome bit of parchment and ink, but those first experiences are spectacular floods of energy and adrenaline.

I'm kind of bummed that it's just a panic attack, since Raiders is one of my favorite movies.

This week, I had a different experience.  I'd gone back and practiced with the Torah twice during the week, I'd been rehearsed by an expert friend of mine, and I was ready.

My portion is Va'era, specifically Exodus 7:19-25.  There I was, chanting along, feeling really confident and relaxed.  And then I got to the hardest word in the portion.  You can see it here in typeface Hebrew, fully vowelled and cantillated.

Va-YAY-ha-fe-koo.  Five syllables.  Most Hebrew words are three or fewer, so this throws me off.  I don't know Hebrew, so every syllable is unfamiliar.  Looking it up, it means "and they were changed."  It's approximately the middle word of my portion.  It has a standalone trope, tvir.  In the actual Torah I'm reading from, in calligraphy and with no vowels, it looks like this:

Easily confused with other words, right?
Last week, the rabbi spent some time with me after my panic attack, helping me with the places I was most stuck.  This word.   He told me to really rock the second syllable, YAY, to celebrate that I am embracing this challenging word. 

This week, in my confidence I cruised right over the word.  My mind told me it was a different word, and I chanted something else (still in tvir, however!).  Because every word must be pronounced correctly, the rabbi, reading along with me, quietly corrected me. 

And out came the raspberries. That word!

We were practicing with the sound system, so the incredibly obnoxious noise I made echoed throughout the sanctuary. 

The rabbi turned to the three other b'nai mitzvah and said, "Now, we know that that is exactly what we are not supposed to do during the service when I correct you, right?"

I cruised through the rest of my portion, no issues, giggling all the way.  No panic attack.  I think I will be OK next week.

1 comment:

Alyna said...

This made me laugh, I was not expecting that ending!