Ne'ila; Sometimes the most powerful prayers are the one you DON'T say...
Shavua Tov everyone,
It has certainly been a long time since I've posted. Knee surgery and a general malaise are to blame, but I was inspired the other night during the Ne'ila service at my shul and I felt the need to share.
Tradition is that during the Ne'ila service, the Aron Kodesh is open displaying the Torah an giving time for everyone to say silent prayers in front of the ark as Yom Kippur comes to a close ("close" BTW is the literal translation of Ne'ila) and the congregation enters into the final phase of the day. I was the very last person in line to say my prayers (traffic through Salem, Massachusetts is awful in October) and though I wasn't light-headed or sick from fasting, I dully stared ahead at all those in front of me. Some people I recognized, most I didn't. My mind began to wander; and wonder about what these people may be praying for. That gave way to the inspiration for this post.
I believe there are two (actually three) phyiscal ways to pray; the most obscure would be the written prayer, the one that people do at the Wall manifests itself in other ways too, poems and songs. It may not be the most popular but has it's place.
The next is the most common; verbal. This is the chanting, singing, responsive readings, and free-style prayers that everyone participates in. Most of the time, people are doing this in concert with a group of other individuals from a common script. Do not get me wrong. This method is beautiful, valid and certainly has purpose. It is tradition and the epitome of ke'hillah (community).
What I am most intereted in is the third kind of prayer: silent. Silent prayer is perhaps the most powerful relationship we have with faith, G-d, Judaism and the like. It is for the individual. No one hears it but G-d and ourselves. That is what makes it so special. It is the only true personal time we have with the Lord. The greatest thing? These silent prayers happen all the time. We can establish a personal connection with G-d ANYTIME WE WANT! It's instantainious and I love it. So what make Ne'ila so special? At first thought it seems obvious; the Ark. It is open and you can go up to the Torah and say a prayer. This is the only time of the year this happens and that certainly makes it special. I also see something special in another aspect of Ne'ila; the approach.
The line to wait is often long and he added symptoms of the fast make it seem even longer. However, that time waitingm anticipating is so amazing. It's the only time you have to wait to pray! This give you time (copious amounts if you are in the back of the line) to think about what you are going to pray about and/or for. I find it so powerful that the process is ALL done silently. The only sound [generally] is the hazzan or rabbi davening the main Ne'ila service, but you are in your zone; you are silent, contemplating what you are going to say to G-d in front of the holy scroll of our people.
What did I pray for? Some specific things that I don't wish to divulge, but for the most part, clarity.
Until next time, keep it real.
The Boston Mensch