Saturday, October 14, 2006

Matt son of Honi the Circlemaker (משה בן חוני המעגל)?

Many of my prayers to-date remain unanswered, but there is one that God and I are simpatico. I was sitting in the Jacuzzi (whose heat, I realized – too late – had been recently turned off). Whatever, it is a relatively cool day, probably in the mid 70s so the spa, slightly warmer at around 78F would be relatively warmer, especially if I turned on the jets. As I wait for the jets to heat the Jacuzzi, I start to hum the plaintive chant that is “Geshem”, the melody that introduces the hopefully-rainy season, recited once a year (tomorrow) on Shemini Atzeret. Naturally the focus on my mind is interesting Jewish liturgical pieces and because of its proximity, I start humming it. I’m sort of superstitious that I shouldn’t recite the word “Geshem” before Shemini Atzeret when I am “practicing” for the very reason that follows. As soon as I begin to chant, the cloudless sky sends forth rain. This is just for a hum. I A couple of years ago while I was actually doing the Geshem prayer at Koach, and it starts to pour outside. The dramatic effect of thunder and lightning as I’m singing the “Yi-i-i-i-i-i-i-it-ga-da-al” is amazing. The only thing that would have made it cooler would have been a quartet with a violin, a fiddle, a viola, and a bass. Perhaps a clarinet too. How about an entire orchestra, minus the drums (God has that covered with the thunderclaps). Another example is when I was leading four years ago in February on the Shabbat of Presidents’ Day Weekend. Though this was not Shmini Atzeret, we do say “Mashiv Haruach U’Morid HaGashem” as part of every Amidah during the Winter (Winter being one of the two seasons in the Mediterranean climate). Suddenly the great blizzard started which snowballed (ha!) into one of the biggest in NYC history (surpassed by the one I missed this past year). I may be a descendant of Honi the Circlemaker. Now maybe God can answer some of my other prayers...

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