Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Days of Awe...

...is the name of a beautiful piece by R. R. Reno at First Things' On the Square.

Reno writes (on Kol Nidrei):
...this odd petition, presented in the legal context of formally constituted court, comes by way of heart-rending chants. There is not the slightest legalism in the music, which is among the most cherished in the Jewish tradition. Instead, it rings with desperate pleas. The chants sigh and sob. Jews do not kneel to pray; they stand. But in haunting melody of the Kol Nidre, I’ve found my Christian soul driven to its knees.

Therein, perhaps, lies the resolution to the paradox. It is as if the cantor and congregation were saying, “O Lord, I am a precipitous, presumptuous, impetuous fool. Please see that my eager spiritual efforts in the year to come are as likely to be motivated by vanity as obedience, self-interest as devotion.” As far as this Gentile can tell, the spiritual meaning of the Kol Nidre petition accords with the petition I make before I approach the altar to receive communion: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”
And the conclusion:
I am Christian and not Jewish. I have no real grasp of Hebrew and I only vaguely follow the prayers in my wife’s synagogue. Yet, in the final moments of Yom Kippur I have felt a terrible anguish, yearning to move, and yet immobile, wanting to rush to God’s side and yet nailed to my worldly life. I have shuddered as cantor cries out: “The doors are closing; the doors are closing.” For in those haunting words I hear Jesus saying: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

Read the full post here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Terrific and right up my alley, so to speak. I'll be quoting from you and Reno on my blog tomorrow morning. Thanks.