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 Feeling the Music 3/3/2023

There is something special about dancing in a circle. The Hasidic world sees dance as a way to feel something of God. By putting our arms around one another and by dancing and singing and clapping, we get carried away out of ourselves and are open to God. Yet, some look at that circle and wonder:are they crazy? Why are they dancing like that and what are they really feeling? I don’t even hear the music. According to the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, a Hasid who sees someone outside the circle should invite them in. That Hasid should help them feel the beat, and maybe, just maybe, they may also hear the music.

I don’t know what it means to be spiritual. Or put another way, I don’t know what other people are experiencing when they describe moments of wonder, awe, deep connection to God or the Universe. I sometimes see people who appear to be spiritual virtuosos, and I feel that I am both deaf and blind in comparison. Or: that they are experiencing something that is ultimately illusory.

I’d like to share this youtube video with you. It shows three hip-hop dancers, two of whom are deaf, dancing together. The deaf artists touch the speaker so that they can feel the music. From that point, they find the beat and are able create something marvelous and artistic that is both shared and specific to each of them. They bridge the gap of sound and find something beautiful.

Many of us are like those deaf dancers. We may not hear the music, or may not hear the music the same way as others, but we can still touch the speakers and find a connection. The prayerbook is a kind of speaker, a touchstone that helps invite us into shared and individual experiences. Jewish ritual generally creates shared experiences, like the Hasidic dancing, providing guidance and touchstones to awaken our ability to dance, even if we still can’t hear.

I don’t always know what it means to be spiritual. Yet I know I am uplifted when I am out in nature. I also know that singing together in Synagogue awakens something in me. In that moment of awareness and awakening, I believe or at least imagine that I am in contact with God.

I invite you to start with gratitude. Leah, when Judah is born, offers gratitude to God for her son. Start making a conscious effort to appreciate all of your day to day gifts, whether it's running water, a warm home, or a loving friend. Gratitude fosters joy. Be open to feeling something different than being happy. Joy means a feeling of connection, of fullness, of feeling whole with the world. Then, perhaps, join our community in prayer so that together we can find something to express and hold those feelings.

Plus, I really like it when I get to spend Shabbat with you. I find it spiritual to be with people that I love and care for. That is a beat I can always feel, even when I find myself deaf to everything else. I feel supported as others dance and sing and pray.  I don’t know what everyone is feeling, but I see everyone holding onto each other in love. So come pray with us. Touch the speakers to feel the beat. Together, we can find a marvelous rhythm!


Sat, July 13 2024 7 Tammuz 5784