Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Singles Shabbaton Chronicles Part 17

Saturday, noon

Up the street from our hotel is the synagogue and yeshiva of one of the direct descendants of Rav Kook. The rosh yeshiva’s wife, Rebbetzin Kook, has a reputation, I have been told, as a wonderful speaker. Officious Cohen Man had said that she fills arenas with women who have come to hear her lecture.

One of the older ladies has told Miriam that around this time each Shabbat, Rebbetzin Kook gives a little talk to ladies. I leave the Shabbaton program with Miriam and Chani, and walk up to the synagogue. We climb to the second floor, to a tiny room filled with bookshelves, tables, and chairs. Inside are a few women with their hair covered, whispering over their books. No sign of the rebbetzin yet.

I have mixed feelings. The room reminds me of the synagogue of the Bostoner Rebbe, which I attended often growing up, and of which I have fond memories. This room strikes me as a nice, quiet place for women to escape to and just be spiritual. On the other hand, my attention span is low and few things gall me more than the thought of sitting around saying psalms.

I grab a prayer book from the shelf. It does not contain psalms, but I find Ethics of the Fathers. I start learning. Then I daydream. I learn, daydream. Learn, daydream. Short attention span. But I feel comfortable here.

I look around at the other ladies. One of them is repeating the weekly portion with the Aramaic translation, a popular custom. She is rocking back and forth and waving her hands and clenching her fists. I acknowledge internally that she may be a spiritually lofty person, but all the rocking and hand gestures and pained facial expressions feel to me like ostentatious displays of fake spirituality. I hope I’m wrong.

I study another woman who is reciting psalms at one of the tables, her little boy playing in her lap. She is saying her prayers with quiet concentration, moving over the lines with one hand and stroking her child’s hair with the other. There is something very simple and classy about her. She is modest and spiritual and, I sense, understands what she’s about. I can admire this woman. She is strong and soft at the same time. She is the real deal.

After about an hour, the Rebbetzin has not come yet. I decide to go. But, this was nice.

No comments:

Post a Comment