Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rosh HaShanah report

A precautionary measure
I davvened Minchah (prayed the Afternoon Service) on the subway ride home on Wednesday afternoon because I was afraid that I wouldn't get to services at the synagogue on time. Since I decided to take a last-minute shower, so as to sneak in one last shampoo before Yom Tov, that turned out to be a wise move--as expected, I missed most of Minchah at the shul.

Still munching a hard-boiled egg (after reciting full Sh'ma) after all these years
See the link above. I still refuse to go to shul on an empty stomach on Shabbat or Yom Tov, because I don't see how one can enjoy one's Sabbath or holiday when one is hungry.

Surprise, surprise
It was only a few weeks ago that our Ritual Committee voted to allow women to lead P'sukei D'Zimrah (an early section of the morning service which consists largely of psalms and other biblical quotes). The president said that I should probably refrain from leading PD at the High Holiday services this year and start thereafter, so that, if I lead PD at next year's HH services, I can claim, to any complainers, that this is now our shul's minhag/custom.

Imagine my double surprise, then, when, at the last minute, the president hired a female cantor to lead Shacharit/Morning Service and yet another female to blow the shofar. Both did very well. And, as far as I know, no one complained.

It's official--I'm a show-off :(
For years, I complained about High Holiday cantors who didn't sing the Yigdal that I learned for the Yamim Noraim in my parents' shul. Finally, they got tired of hearing me kvetch and gave me the honor of leading Yigdal on the Yamim Noraim. In the beginning, it really felt like a big honor. But I have to admit that as my "audience" of 200 or so slowly shrank over the years . . . Somehow, singing to roughly 20 people on the first night of Rosh HaShanah just didn't cut it.

It really helped that I got a decent night's sleep on the first night, and a nap in the afternoon. Come the second night, I was determined to put some real kavvanah (focus) into my Yigdal, even though there were only 14 people there. The second night's Yigdal felt much more meaningful, and I was pleased that I'd made the proper effort.

Doing very nicely, thank you
My husband's been giving the "sermons" on Shabbat, and a couple of volunteers spoke on Rosh HaShanah. Thus far, no one's complained about the fact that we no longer have a rabbi to give sermons.


Blogger Miami Al said...

Shana Tova.

Re: eating first, the stringent opinions, nothing but coffee without sugar, certainly don't apply to you as a woman, and since the stringent opinion isn't improving your enjoyment of Shabbat/Yom Tov, I don't really understand why you picked this particular time-bound chumrah to make your own.

I always make Kiddush at home before Shul. My wife won't bother doing it, and my kids are little and need to eat. I make Kiddush over coffee and a light breakfast for my family first.

Regarding showering on Yom Tov, the prohibition on bathing is based on the idea that the bath houses need to keep the water hot, and the proprietors might sneakily heat the water to gain a business advantage. Applying this to showering inside one's home is questionable at best -- you only trigger the bathing restriction by immersing your entire body, you can do it limb by limb anyway -- and it certainly does NOT apply to Yom Tov where heating the water is irrelevant.

However, the shampooing issue is a gender/regional issue. With short hair (male) and in a hot climate, not being able to "vigorously dry" my hair is pretty irrelevant. My wife often avoids washing her hair on Yom Tov, because it is more of an inconvenience to her.

Sun Sep 12, 04:36:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Miami Al, as far as eating before davvening/praying is concerned, if a snack before davvening is good enough for a YU musmach (see link), it's good enough for me.

I shower on Yom Tov, but never on Shabbat, when I splash myself with cold water at the sink.

I have short hair, but, being female, I can't see not combing it--a forbidden action, I've heard--after a shampoo, so I never shampoo my hair on Yom Tov.

Sun Sep 12, 05:32:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sorry I wasn't very clear--the YU musmach (musmach = person with rabbinical ordination) is Elie. Follow the first link, then the link about eating before praying to read his comment.

Sun Sep 12, 10:26:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Miami Al said...

The combing argument is there, it's a pretty weak combination of things, but it is generally accepted that you can't comb your hair.

Re bathing: two issues: one heating of water, two, a Rabbinic decree about bathing as a result of others heating the water in the bath house. Hence why historically there was a tendency to be stringent on Yom Tov (back when bathing was a weekly, not a daily activity), now the tendency is to be lenient.

However, since the argument is weak, you can generally brush you hair, depending on the type of brush.

When my wife covered her hair in a scarf, none of this mattered. You could pick up a few of them for Yom Tov, allowing you to have clean hair AND freak out your congregants that you've frumed out. :)

Sun Sep 12, 10:26:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I do use a brush that I bought for Shabbat and Yom Tov specifically. It has widely-spaced ball-tipped bristles on a squishy base, so it won't tear out my hair. Unfortunately, that means that it also won't detangle any knots that would form if I shampooed on a Yom Tov. So I don't shampoo.

Re the scarves, that would certainly get me a look or two. :)

Mon Sep 13, 12:41:00 PM 2010  

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