Episode 28: Excavating the Secrets (with Rabbi Deborah Sacks Mintz)
11:53AM Aug 9, 2022
Deborah Sacks Mintz
There is a spark it can ignite, and all you gotta do is bring the light- cause a new light to shine... Shalom, everyone. Welcome to Episode 28 of the Light Lab Podcast. I'm Eliana, it's so great to be with you new listeners and old listeners alike. Coming to you from a very beautiful and sweaty August in Durham, North Carolina. It's so great to get to have these conversations about T'fillah, prayer, liturgy and spirituality and to revisit some interviews that I did earlier in the summer including this next one with my dear friend, an incredible practitioner and teacher of T'fillah and communal singing and a beautiful melodic voice- harmonies up the wazoo- friends, I'm so excited to share with you my interview with now rabbi, Rabbi Deborah Sacks Mintz. Rabbi Deborah Sacks Mintz serves the Hadar Institute as director of T'fillah and music. What an incredible title, the perfect position for the perfect person, an educator, practitioner, and facilitator of Jewish communal prayer. Deborah serves and supports communities and individuals who seek to deepen, sharpen and unlock their practice of empowered song and T'fillah. She has collaborated with a diverse array of different Jewish musicians. She's been on over two dozen albums. Incredible! Her first record of original spiritual music, the Narrow and the Expanse, such a beautiful album, that came out in 2020. She is also part of Joey Weisenberg's Hadar Ensemble, Rabbi Josh Warshawsky third chair friend of the pod, on the pod, he is the pod, Chaverai Nevarech band and New Moon Rising with our friends Elana Arian and Chava Mirel. Rabbi Sacks Mintz received Rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she also earned her MA in Women and Gender studies. She holds degrees in music and religious anthropology from the University of Michigan and you can learn more about Deborah's work at www.deborahsaksmintz.com. Don't worry, we will be including all of those links in the show notes. Listen to this episode and stick around to hear the title track from Deborah's album a beautiful version of "Min Hameitzar", which we'll talk about and please enjoy my interview with Rabbi Deborah Sacks Mintz.
Well, hi, Deborah, it's so great to be with you today.
Eliana, thank you so much for having me. This is a treat.
I know it's been a while since we've been in the same room singing together. So being in the same zoom talking. Not the same, but pretty great.
Definitely, definitely close.
Definitely close. So we're gonna talk about T'fillah, of course, the subject of this podcast and one of my favorite things to talk about. But I want to start with your childhood. What was your relationship to T'fillah growing up when you were a kid?
That's a great question. And I love I love thinking back to that time, I grew up in a really beautiful community in Riverdale, in the Bronx. And being immersed in my Shul T'fillah experience was, it was actually a pretty defining and formative part of my, my Jewish journey. When I was around 12, and I was studying for my Bat Mitzvah, I was really captivated by this idea that Jewish adults are all not just empowered, but in many ways, seen as responsible for the sort of spiritual well being of their community through leadership. And that not only was every adult responsible for that, but that as a 13 year old, I counted as an adult, and that in this sort of world where I was basically a child in all aspects of life that I was seen as an equally responsible part of this community. And that was really my my primary relationship to T'fillah, that it was something that I could be responsible for and embedded within as my own autonomous self and that I could find that through music. It was it was very, very powerful as a child.
That is a really beautiful way to look at it. And was the music kind of the inroad for you? Was that what drew you to the experience itself? In addition to the empowerment piece,
I'd say the sort of meditative mindful aspects of traditional nusach as a musical modality. I was a musician from a, from a very young age, cello is my first instrument. And then I always loved to sing, but actually leading T'fillah was my sort of first access point into finding my voice. And the melodies of traditional prayer really drew me in.
How old were you when you started leading T'fillah.
I was learning already in junior congregation when I was eight, or nine. And we all kind of took leadership roles in that context. But I really dove right in for my Bat Mitzvah and then became part of the rotation in my shul.
And at that time, I'm assuming, or maybe not that it's changed, and we'll talk about it. But at that time, what did you see your role as, as a leader of T'fillah?
I think I pretty quickly, and I really credit this to the clergy of my shul, I think I pretty quickly saw myself as, as like part of the lay leadership of the shul. And that my ability to lead T'fillah was an integral part of my way of contributing to my community. I think I saw that as a teen.
That's really incredible to have clergy who want to support and uplift young folks, that's, that's really beautiful. As you kind of grew up, left your home community. Were there any experiences along your young adulthood, any teachers that you had, that started to focus or shift or change your understanding of what T'fillah is or could be?
Well, interestingly, when I went off to college, and I studied classical voice at the University of Michigan School of Music, I really, I really sort of left Jewish communal life for, for a period at that point, and immersed myself both in the conservatory and in sort of took a deep dive into the study of ethno-musicology. And through that, I began to learn with scholars and professors and practitioners that were studying the way music as sort of an active process actualizes and ignites and activates communities and I, I started to study how music shows up in faith based communities, not Jewish specifically. So I'd say that at that point in my life, a lot of of the people that I was studying music and in cultures around the world, and sort of some of the very sort of physical embodied parts of classical music, thinking specifically about my choral conducting professor, Dr. Paul Rardin. Some of these folks, I think, in retrospect, actually were really formative mentors in T'fillah, even though that was not the modality of music, or of prayer or of musical practice in community with which they were working.
I think that's really incredible, though, we see so many, or at least, you because you've been immersed in both can find those threads. What are some other pieces from your classical training that you have found support or uplift your T'fillah leadership? What are some of the corollaries there? I know nothing about classical music, by the way. So this is very exciting for me.
Well, I actually think the concept of "keva" and "kavanah" which is you know, a as you do know, Eliana is a is a crucial part of how we think of the practice of prayer, right, the "keva" that which is fixed and the "kavanah", that which is fluid, spontaneous, or the form and the fire, as we call it, I'd say that's an integral part of not just classical music, but any really serious study of any type of musical form that has a fixed system that's there to serve the artistic purpose. And that only when that is sort of mastered to some degree or internalized intensely within the body or as a as a string player, first and foremost, within the hands, a little more amorphous in the voice inside the body, only when it's internalized can that the kavanah can the the the fluid, more creative, artistic, sparks emerge. And I think that that is something that in the ebb and flow between being a musical practitioner and a prayer practitioner, that that really translates and, and is, I think, very, a very useful dichotomy to sort of have internalized.
Yeah, what while you were talking, I was imagining almost the words of the Siddur as a musical score, like without even thinking about nusach yet, just as a classical cellist, unless they are a composer themselves are playing pieces that someone else wrote, that came from a place deep within them. We too are given this score, but it's it's words instead of music, which adds another layer of poetic beauty and also complexity. I don't know, that was just that's kind of a nice image. I'm wondering where that takes you.
Yeah, that is a beautiful image. It's, it is funny that you, you mentioned the nusach right in there as sort of, that's not even necessarily the right the right comparison, right? We could say, the music notes in a, you know, Bach Cello Suite are, you know, are to the music as the nusach to the prayer, but I would agree with you, it's, it's much more like looking at the words of the, of the Psalms, right, it's we're offered a fixed form, as the container for that which is too confusing or too complicated or too scary or too beautiful, to, to formulate, without some kind of rooted history and some kind of form to give it beauty. And I would say, that is sort of what the the notes on the page are. They're like the, the words of our of our prayers of our Psalms. So
you experience this more classical vocal training this classical musical training, what else happened along that path to lead you back into Jewish community?
Well, along the way, in my conservatory studies at Michigan, as I mentioned, I started taking a deep dive into ethnomusicology and into how music shows up in faith based communities. And that took me on a lot of traveling and a lot of study of religions and musical cultures from around the world, doing fieldwork around the world. And eventually, I began to feel a calling to start to ask myself, where does this show up, in my own faith based community? Where does this show up in my own tradition, and my own soul and my own background? All of these concepts of music, not as a universal language, but music as a language is universal. That where does that show up in specifics in my own life, and my own connection to that which is greater than myself? So that's where that began to take me.
That's incredible. Do you have particular memories from your time doing field work that sparked new thoughts in you, or new curiosities in you, about your Jewish community, but in places that weren't in that community?
Yeah, so one summer, I was doing some work in South India, I was in a program studying the intersection between classical Carnatic singing, which is the style of classical music in South India, the intersection between that music and meditation theory, and we were studying a chant that is said at the end of a practice. And the translation of this chant, immediately struck me as almost identical to Oseh shalom, and I, I wasn't just struck by the, you know, translation similarities. Of course, you know, religions around the world have similar concepts of prayers for peace, that's not unusual. I was struck for my more by my own reaction to noticing it that I felt this strange sort of emotional kinship to that moment that went far beyond just sort of like noticing similarities between like my religion and someone else's religion. And that that really stuck with me, I came back home and sort of began to flip through the pages of the siddur in a way I hadn't in years, with a deeper curiosity and to looking at what are the texts that we say in the beginning, in the middle in the ends of our practices, our prayer practices, our mindfulness practices, our embodied and spoken and, and moments of study that make our mark our connection to g?d? And what are the statements that we say what are our fundamental core statements? And really, that was one moment that sort of began to draw me back deeply into Jewish prayer.
I'm wondering if along your experiences or maybe as you're starting to come back, if you're thinking about the difference between prayer and T'fillah, which is something we talk about a lot in this space. Could you have articulated that then and even if not, is there a way that you're thinking about it now?
Yeah, I mean, I think coming back to this concept of keva and kavannah. You know, I spoke about it a moment ago, in much more kind of generalist terms, right? The the fixed parts of an experience that allow for the outpouring of the creativity and the spark. But when I think of prayer versus T'fillah, and I think of Jewish prayer, l'hitpallel, I think of the specifics of the keva, being really crucial for the kavanah, to come out, that the rhythms of Jewish prayer, the texts of Jewish prayer, the sounds of Jewish prayer, the physical embodiment of Jewish prayer, that those specifics are really there, in order to centor the kavanah, of Jewish prayer. And I find, I find tremendous depth and comfort in that process.
I find this really interesting, because I also grew up in a traditional davening, one might say, sort of community where the rhythms became ingrained in me. And that does very often support my own kavanah. And yet, for so many people who did not grow up that way, or who have not sought it out in such a deep way, that which we consider entry points can be seen as barriers. So I'm wondering, in your experience, now, as a T'fillah, educator, we're skipping ahead a little bit. So if you have things to fill it from how you got from there to here, we can fill in those shades. But something I think about a lot is, How can we make feel accessible to folks who have not had that background, while still keeping the things in T'fillah that make it particular?
That's a great question. And I'll say that if I had like a really, really, really good, clear answer for that, then, you know, I would have, I would I'd cracked the code. And I think we're all right. I think we're all we're all all of us here as T'fillah educators, not the least of which yourself a magnificent t'fillah educator who I've admired for many years, you know, we're all on that journey of trying to balance the, you know, the general and the specific, the accessibility and I think the real beauty of of secrets and of mystery, right? There's some actual, I think there's spiritual power to it not being 100% accessible to you not knowing every word to still wondering and not always being sure. I personally actually really enjoy the moments where I'm not totally sure what page we're on. And I have to kind of do the work of finding that that that, to me, is its own spiritual practice.
So you come back to the Siddur, to your Jewish tradition, how does that bring you into not just being a practitioner of prayer, but a professional teacher, and the leader, and composer of T'fillah.
After I felt this, calling back into sort of reviewing and revisiting my deep connection to shul to prayer, to observance, to t'fillah and reigniting that in myself- I began to work in congregational education and youth and family education in shuls, first full time as part of a congregational education team, and then eventually as the director of, of the education program. And I was also beginning to compose Jewish music, collaborate with Jewish musicians, experimenting with leading davening, again, eventually joining the davening team of minyanim and ends founding a minyan, and all of these, all of these explorations together, put me on a path into rabbinical school, where I am, I'm right now finishing up in my in my final few weeks of my smicha program, and as I as I studied through rabbinical school, deepening my not just my own relationship and process to prayer and Jewish music and leading prayer and composing Jewish music, but creating pathways and systems by which others can feel as connected and empowered and ignited and curious, and really responsible as members of the Jewish community, as I was fortunate enough to as an adolescent and later in life, and that's a lot of the work that I think about now.
It's really incredible passing that on so that other people are able to feel empowered in their own communities. I want to take a step back before going forward as we are wanting to do, and thinking about the parallels between your Jewish T'fillah journey and your songwriting journey, knowing that they are not totally separate. They're definitely intertwined. But do you see something in one that has taught you something and the other. How has your songwriting affected your prayer life? Has it affected your prayer life?
Whoa, that is an amazing question How has my songwriting affected my prayer life? I'll say that I find I find songwriting to be actually a very demanding practice that takes a lot of discipline and does not for me come naturally, I do not feel songs and melodies, like kind of pouring out of me, I have many colleagues for whom that is how they experience it, and that's beautiful. But actually, my process in writing, music and especially music for prayer is very disciplined and has a structure and usually an intention, and usually a purpose. That is not is actually not emotional until later. It's, it's quite, it's quite fixed in its approach, and then takes on emotional power once the melody has already come to light. And as I say this, I'm thinking a lot about this, this great Midrash that kind of imagines David HaMelech, King David's composition practice in a in a similar way. And the first time I read this Midrash, I was like, Oh, now I feel better about the fact that like songs don't always just like, pour out of me. But that is actually part of a, a spiritual practice discipline. So there's Midrash, which is from the from Pesachim and the Babylonian Talmud. It looks with curiosity at the fact that there are some psalms that begin “l’david mizmor” and some songs that begin with “mizmor l’david”. And one means of David, a Psalm, the other means a Psalm of David. And the Rabbis of course, couldn't just let this go, they couldn't just say, okay, different songs, different beginnings there, there must be a reason David HaMelech sort of started these differently. So what does the Midrash say? It says, If a psalm begins with “l’david mizmor,” “of David a Psalm,” this teaches that the Shechinah, that the Divine Presence, rested upon him first. And afterwards, he recited the song. However, if the psalm opens “mizmor l’david,” “a Psalm of David,” this teaches that he first recited the song, and afterwards the Shechinah the Divine Presence, rested upon him. So in this Midrash, we sort of have this picture of this, this, you know, composer for whom, you know, we can imagine that songwriting was somewhat of a spiritual and creative calling. And yet, there were moments where, like, it wasn't this sort of this musical outpouring of divine connection, it was like, I'm going to sit down and write this song, and it is through the act of writing a song and creating this melody, that I'll access the divine. And that is the order, I have to do it first, and then it will come. And we can attribute those psalms to Mizmor L’David, A Psalm of David. And I just, I feel, I feel very inspired with the second half of that Midrash with the first you write it, and then there is a divine connection that comes after because I think that that often defines my process, which has, has become a very rich spiritual process. For me,
that is such a beautiful Midrash, I'd never heard that before. And so great that you were able to find yourself reflected in it. And to me, going back to what you said earlier, it's almost as if you have to create your own Keva first, that you create the structure through which a divine experience can happen once it becomes a part of you, once it becomes embodied, and enmeshed in you. And since you brought up the Shechinah the Divine Presence, I'm wondering, both in your prayer leadership and in your music writing, where is g?d in all of this? And how you understand that to be? Easy, simple questions.
Where's g?d in all of this? Yeah, you know, I mean, I think coming back to this question of like, the mystery and the secrets, I think, I don't know where g?d is in it, and that's good for me. That's okay. And that's I think that's sort of part of the reason why we can say the same words every day, multiple times a day and they do something for us. They show up as new because sort of the, the process of trying to excavate through the layers into the, into the secrets and sort of never fully finding it, which I guess one could feel as a little bit sort of nihilistic, but I find it to be sort of like endless opportunity, like, I do not have to create the pathways, or the structure to try to connect to g?d, I have everything I need in the Siddur, I have everything I need in the melodies of my ancestors. And part of my job, as a pray-er is to pray and use those structures as an offering to try to find the secrets of the Divine and of g?d and myself. And part of my job as a facilitator, a shaliach tzibur, or a composer is to use all of those tools as a way to beautify or enhance or support others in their own excavation of secrets.
This is really reminding me of Anim Zemirot right now, which is one of my favorite prayer poems, you know, “l’da’at kol raz sodecha”, “to know the deepest depths of your secrets.” And it's not like the author of that prayer poem gets there at the end. it is in the longing, and the questioning and the excavating. That is the point of divine connection. That is the journey itself.
Wow, that's beautiful. Yeah.
Thanks, you're in a good club. Let’s turn, let's turn to your teaching, then I'm really interested in what it takes to teach people and invite them in both to an experience of prayer and into leadership of prayer. Given that there are so many aspects, the Siddur, the space, the music, how are you thinking about the teaching of T'fillah these days?
Well, I spend a lot of time thinking about the teaching of t’fillah, I'm really excited to be starting a new position with the Hadar Institute as their director of T'fillah and music serving on the faculty and exploring with those of a really all levels and access points, what it means to to hold the responsibility of, of leading T’fillah and finding access into T’fillah. That's, that's one part of my portfolio. And when thinking about sort of beginning to build out one's toolbox of leadership, I usually think of the skills of leadership as like tools in a toolbox, right? Like, we all have a toolbox. And we all have an array of tools in the toolbox. And we all need to add more tools to the toolbox. And yet, we still all have some already in there. And part of the work is to figure out what are the tools we already have? What do we need to add in when I think about developing the tools over time and how that's sort of a lifelong journey? I think about those those tools or those skills, and sort of three categories, I think about technical skills, which are like, you know, kind of the kavanah, as we've been talking about the the nusach, or the text or the fixed systems we're working with, I think about musical and artistic skills are what my my colleague and mentor Joey, Joey Weissenberg calls a sense of artistic joy, which I find really beautiful because it it's not like everyone needs to lead T’fillah needs to be a great musician. But we do need to develop a sense of musical and artistic joy, I think it’s a beautiful concept. So technical skills, musical and artistic joy. And then the last category of skills or of tools, humility, confidence, and kavannah, which is sort of the most kind of a amorphous set of skills to be developing. So I see everyone who, who finds themselves called into prayer leadership as on a journey of developing their toolbox vis a vis those three skill areas. And we all come to the table with different strengths and growing edges. And it's a lifelong process, whether you're a novice or an advanced practitioner. And I feel very called into partnering with others in examining and expanding their skills in those areas.
I love that. And for someone who's just starting out on this journey of becoming a prayer leader and wanting to add more tools to their toolbox, do you have any guiding questions for them? Any questions that would help such a person know where to start?
So when I work with a with a new student with a an aspiring Shaliach tzibur or a current Shaliach tzibur, and I do believe that every Jewish person is either a current or aspiring shaliach tzibur they, if they so choose and feel called actually usually begin with, with a brief study of part of the opening line from Hilchot T'fillah from Rambam's Mishnah Torah. And this is, you know, this is a text that sort of studying the ins and outs of some of the nitty gritties of T'fillah leadership. It's not, it's not narrative, it's not creative. It's not a particularly poetic text. But it has this beautiful line that says, "BaShachar Kol Ha'Am Yoshvim," at Shacharit in the morning, the whole community is sitting "U'shaliach tzibur yored lifnei hateva," and the prayer leader, "yored", goes down before the "tevah", before the ark with the Torah, "v'omed b'emtzah ha'am," and stands within the people "u'matchil" and begins. and it it sort of outlines this process that at the beginning of leading prayer, especially if the shaliach tzibur has to have both the chutzpah of "omed" of standing "b'emtzah ha'am" within a community of people who are "yoshvim," sitting, takes a lot of chutzpah. But they also have to as the text says "yored lifnei hateivah" go down before the ark, this sort of image of like a kind of a humbling, and it raises up that to lead prayer is, is that one sort of holding chutzpah and humility, which is really, really hard. And we all gravitate more towards one or the other. And I usually ask those who are doing the work of deepening this skill or stepping up into this process to to examine which of these postures is more natural to you. How do you balance them out? What tools do you need in order to cultivate both this humility and this chutzpah this ability to step back and listen in the service of your community, and also to have the courage to stand up and serve?
Not only do you work with prayer leaders and aspiring prayer leaders, but you also work with communities. And I'm wondering when a community reaches out to you, What are they looking for often? And are there any guiding questions or principles that you use with them? You know, I think that some synagogues, they say they want more meaningful prayer or better prayer. But what does that even mean? So I'm wondering what are they looking for when they come to you? And what are you what are you hoping to provide for them?
Yeah, well, first of all, partnering with communities is like one of my favorite things in the world, for a lot of reasons, one of which just very selfishly, I love experiencing how different communities pray and sing and feeling sort of let into to their Torah. And every community davens differently and every community sees, you know, what is like regular or like normal davening as differently and that's one of my personal greatest joys is sort of seeing what makes a community tick and what what feels safe, what feels comfortable. And then I'd say part of part of what I ask and what I offer, a community is, how do we take what is what is safe, important, comfortable, beautiful, and working, and dig deeper? And back to this question of secret, sort of unearth some of the still unexcavated secrets of prayer and of song and music that already exist in the way that shul is experiencing prayer. Together. I'll say that one of my first questions when I'm working with like the Chazzan or the Rabbi or the, you know, ritual, committee head, or whoever it is that I'm working with, to to partner with joining a shul for a weekend or an experience is I'll say, what are your "MiSinai" melodies? So "MiSinai" meaning sort of as though it's Torah from Sinai itself. Every community has their own recent melodies, every community has the melodies that feel fundamental to the fabric of the Torah of the community. And that's always one of my first questions because I see part of my work in bringing together the "MiSinai" melodies, and the "MIiSinai-ness" of prayer, and sort of marrying it to elements of newness to create that, you know, that's "Shir Chadash" that new song and it starts with knowing what is really core to the musical identity of a community.
That's really beautiful. I find that A lot of synagogues, maybe not a lot, but certainly some think that it is the new melodies that are going to help uplift and radically change the nature of their congregation but you know, as your mentor, and friend of mine Joey Wisenberg likes to say "it's never the melody's fault", which is something I've really taken to heart.
It's very, very generous to some melodies to say.
Maybe sometimes I think maybe sometimes it is the melody's fault. But often it isn't. And that leads me to like, not necessarily the core, because there have been many cores that we have been focusing on. But when you lead prayer, what are your hopes for the people in the congregation? Do you have a hope? Do you have a goal in mind for them? Why? Why are they there? What can you help them do?
I think that that's, that's really interesting. I think I would have answered that question differently at different stages of my life and have my own understanding of what leading prayer can be. I actually think right now, one of my goals, when I am the one leading prayer is to allow the community to see my vulnerability in the prayer and the ways in which I am human that feels, that feels core to me at this moment, I'll just share a story I was recently leading davening for a simcha. And it was a, it was a particularly complicated morning of davening. In terms of the liturgy, it was, there was Hanukkah and there was Musaf and there was Hallel, and there were like things that you only say on those times and days, and, and it was complicated. And I was aware of the intricacies of the T'fillah. And I made the decision that if I were to stumble, or if I were to feel the weight of those structural complications, that it would be okay, if the kahal felt some of that, that I too, could, in fact, do what I tried to teach, which is that I can both hold the responsibility of, of skills and correct leadership for the sake of the community, and allow myself to be one of the people praying to be one of the people vulnerable, and to be one of the people human being human. And, and let that be, that feels very live for me right now. And I try to let that show up in that davening in that moment.
That's beautiful. And I would hope even taking a step further and feel free to correct me if this kind of doesn't go there in your mind. But through you being vulnerable, perhaps you give other people permission to be vulnerable themselves. Because I think that prayer is an incredibly vulnerable act, singing in front of people is vulnerable, in a language that you don't totally understand and opening your heart to some sort of emotion, it's all vulnerable. And to see the person at the front of the room, or in the middle of the room, depending on where you are the leader of prayer, not be perfect, can give everybody else permission that they don't have to be perfect either. And that can be really freeing.
Yeah, I think that's a great way to put it, that it can be that it can be freeing to be visibly human. And I also believe that there is, you know, it's it's really important to strive for, you know, accuracy and for and for skill. And I'm trying to instill in both my students and in myself, the ability to both prioritize that and to not let that get in the way of being a prayer that those have to both. I have to hold both. And that's also in some ways, humility and chutzpah.
And it takes a lot of self compassion, and compassion for others. I know I'm like that, like if the hot succotash is quote, unquote, supposed to be one melody and the leader uses the other one. I'm out. I'm out. I'm out of it. Right. It kind of takes me out of the flow. And there are plenty of reasons why someone wouldn't remember or know that that was the correct Chatzi Kaddish melody, and what can I do to steer myself to steer myself back? I don't know if you ever have that problem?
Yeah, It's funny it that's such a I love that example. Because you know the Chatzi Kaddish has just just to get really nerdy for a second, like, please. I mean, look who we are. But in some ways, that's a great example of like, there's like an error in Chatzi Kaddish melody that's so common across North American shuls at this point that sometimes if you don't make make that mistake and you do it correctly, it can be jarring for folks because it, there's like a over there are certain nusach mistakes that over time have sort of almost taken on the weight of correct because of how frequently they're done. And honestly, that's Midrash, too, you know, there's something very midrashic about that, that I, I almost don't want to get in the way of. And at the same time I like I also want to, like, solve that. So you just named one of my favorite examples of like, the Chatzi Kaddish Nusach.
Yeah, that that's definitely alive for me. As we kind of wind down our conversation together, I'm wondering if there's any composition of yours piece of prayer music in particular, that you would want to raise up as a blessing for our listeners as a prayer for our listeners, something to leave us with as we continue to think about this question and lean into the mystery of it all.
Thank you. I think I'd like to offer my melody for Min Hameitzar, which is two verses from Psalm 118. And in the first verse of this, of this song, the the text reads "min hameitzar karati yah," from a narrow place, I cried out, "anani vamerchav yah." And g?d answered me from a place of expanse. And I always read this verse as like, maybe aspirational, because I know in the moments where I feel like I'm in the meitzar, that I'm in the narrow place. I'm not like confident that g?d will answer me. It's like usually the opposite. So for a while, I read it as aspirational. And then after reading that, that Midrash, from pesachim about King David, I realized, maybe it's not even that it's aspirational. It's that it's actually the disciplined practice of saying, words that we don't even have the courage to believe yes, but the process of saying that is the first step to bringing on Shechinah or bringing on the merchav, bringing on the expanse, that it is that there is a discipline and saying "anani vamerchav yah," g?d answered me, there's a discipline in saying that in the moment where you feel davka, where you feel specifically the opposite. And I have a melody for that, that is very close to my heart that I would like to offer as sort of a a kavanah for all of us or an intention towards feeling the courage to lean into the discipline of, of saying words that are maybe hard, maybe confusing, maybe we don't even always believe but they're in the service of sort of excavating the secrets.
excavating the secrets. Thank you. So so much for your blessings, and for joining us in this conversation today.
Thank you so much, Eliana, what a joy, thank you for bringing me
and thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much to Christi Dodge our editor, who does an amazing job every single week. You can find the light lab on Facebook or Instagram at the light dot lab. Follow us we've got some fun and exciting things coming up for the upcoming year. We hope you will join us in our exploration of T'fillah and we will see you very very soon. Bye everybody. Anani, anani...