Friday, March 7, 2014

Tricky Haftarah

It is hard to assess what my value to my congregation actually is.  They get a check for dues in full, a few dollars beyond that.  My Jewish knowledge has very little value, as it is not a place that aspires to having an upper tier interactive form of Judaism.  It is a place  where people see the world in black & white, picking out the conveniences of CUFI or gender participation or some Torah insight that the Rabbi can pick up on the internet sometime during the week, to be imparted to a non-critical audience without really thinking through the subtleties that distinguish knowledge from insight.  But I have bimah skills and a male phenotype, neither of which they developed, but offers something that they need.  In some ways, these things are as much my possessions as my checking account, whereas my mind and inquisitiveness are the more innate parts of me that make me an individual.  No, they seem to want my possessions more than they value me.

So they have a donation, a week's effort to prepare Haftarah Vayikra.  This portion from Isaiah hardly ever gets read in the sanctuary, typically coming up during the weeks between Purim and Pesach when the calendar mandates replacement with prophetic messages tailored to the season more than to the Weekly Torah portion.  But from a quirk of leap year and strategic placement of Rosh Chodesh, this year this section will be chanted by me.  It is a rather lengthy portion, though far from the few very long ones.  What distinguishes it for me is not its message, which is classic Isaiah of woe is coming for you because of your misconduct but will be better for your descendants, but the rather difficult language with many unfamiliar words of considerable length and almost tongue-twisting syllables.  Fluency will inevitably fall beneath my usual achievement, though I wonder how many people will really appreciate the difficulty of this one.

AKSE merits my best effort, just the same, as do I.

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