Music allows us to navigate through the loudness, to find the silence. Music organizes the loud sounds so that we can recognize the power of the quiet, acting as an intermediary between God’s loud, external “persona” and the quiet, holy, inner being where truth is found. Music hangs in the subtle balance between sound and silence. It is music that tunes up our beings, that tunes up the entire world, to allow for an interchange between the soft, inner and the loud, outer manifestations of truth.
I have fond memories of my grandfather at the head of the table, chanting the Haggadah straight through in Hebrew. My grandmother, mother, and aunts would be busy in the kitchen while all of us kids were fidgeting, waiting for our cue to sing Mah Nishtanah, the Four Questions. The night of the first seder was always magical for me, and still is, as I try to infuse the tradition with contemporary ideas and some new melodies.
May 13, 2016
By Nancy Abramson
| Commentary | Kedoshim
This week’s parashah opens with a statement on holiness: “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2). In the original Hebrew, the word “you” in this verse is in the plural form, implying that anyone can attain holiness the capacity for holiness is not only for those who are spiritually gifted. The plural “you” might also suggest that holiness is best achieved in the context of a community, rather than as a solo effort.
Jul 10, 2015
By Nancy Abramson
| Commentary | Pinehas
Parashat Pinehas is one of several instances in the Torah in which the holidays and their sacrifices are described. In Leviticus, we read the verse, “These are the fixed seasons of God, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions;” (23:4) a prelude to the descriptions of festival practices with particular emphasis on the offerings made by the kohanim (priests). Here in Pinehas, the Torah lays out the religious calendar as a catalogue of these public sacrifices (Num. 28:1–29:39), which forms the maftir Torah reading for each festival.