I know this is a ridiculous thought. But what if I mess up and Gd is disappointed?
I don’t know my Torah portion yet. I’m memorizing it like a little bat mitzvah kid, but I haven’t gotten it down yet–and I only have three weeks left!
I’m very slow with memorizing. I don’t understand the words without the translation in front of me. I’m not very good at reading Hebrew. I don’t know trope. I tried to learn when I was 12 and I just couldn’t get it down. I’m learning my portion the same way I did then–by memorizing one sentence at a time. Play. Pause. Repeat. Again. (It’s very boring.)
Why am I doing this? If I don’t even understand the words, if it’s so very hard, if I get so anxious about this, what on earth am I doing this whole thing for? It’s not required. It’s not even tradition, considering how I’ll be the one under the chuppah wearing the dress. If it’s not required, and it’s not tradition, and I’m not even good at it, why am I reading Torah on my wedding day?
There’s something about chanting Hebrew on the bimah that feels so terrifying and powerful to me. I know some people do it all the time, but for me, it’s really special. It’s even more than a marker of an important occasion, more than the whole wedding day excitement. When I’m on the bimah, it feels like Gd is looking directly at me.
Maybe it’s silly. Maybe I’m being superstitious. I’m kind of quaint about these things. It’s childish. But still, I have this bizarre reverence for the moment someone is standing before her whole community and she opens her mouth and out come the words Gd supposedly told our ancestors to recite. What if Gd is actually listening?
Suspend your disbelief with me for a moment. Imagine you do believe in an omnipotent Being, One who wrote all the words with some big omnipotent Hand, holding what must surely have been the most important pen in the history of the universe. Think about this. This Being wrote the words. And you’re saying them. Out loud. In public. It would be like reciting “Phenomenal Woman” with Maya Angelou herself backstage, only waaaaay more important. Eek!
I know, logically, that Gd is not hiding inside of the ark, listening to my every word. I know this.
However, I also cannot disprove the idea that Gd is hiding inside the ark, listening to my every word. Gd is everywhere, so why not hiding in the ark, next to the extra Torah scrolls?
To my heart, beating just a little bit too fast, and to my knees, which literally shake when I stand in front of an open Torah on the bimah, Gd is definitely right there, hiding somewhere behind me, listening to my every naked breath.
Yes, there is a bit of terror, like catching a strange shadow in the corner of one’s eye. But also, all of the sweetness of a pure childhood belief floods back to me when I read Torah on the bimah. I am whole, I am right, I am good, I am love and light and happiness itself–Gd is there, not as a crutch, not as a comfort, not as any kind of human tool, but just simply as Gd, existing, there, on the bimah. Gd is there, Gd is there, Gd is THERE.
So, I’ll be there too. With my inexpert voice, and my completely fallible memory. I’ll be there, and I will read Torah on my wedding day. Wish me luck!
Lag B Blog day 16.