This is the anniversary, on the Jewish calendar, of my trip to Israel in 1996. In this week’s Torah portion, Ekev, Moses exhorts the people to cut away the thickening of their heart, to “circumcise” their heart! So, the tiny paper I put in the cracks of the Western Wall did not have a prayer for healing but for helping cut away that thickening, fully knowing that makes me more vulnerable. As Carly Simon sang “there’s more room in an broken heart“. ( I guess I was afraid of getting an overly thick skin.) The Tin man in Wizard of Oz sang
I’d be tender, I’d be gentle
And awful sentimental
Regarding love and art
I’d be friends with the sparrows
And the boy that shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart.
But if your heart were bare, wouldn’t you cry for the sufferings you see on the evening news, or the streets of the city, would you just be “bleeding heart”? Won’t that just make you depressed? The truth is the opposite depression, according to Lauren Slater, (Prozac diaries) is like a deadening, an inability to feel anything though your senses are feeding you information, like a steel curtain between your soul and the world.
I spent this past week at the North American Jewish choral Festival in the Catskill mountains of New York. We were on a hilltop and the view and the weather were spectacular. I got to study and sing with the likes of Nick Page http://www.nickpagemusic.com/www.nickpagemusic.com/Music.html; with Eleanor Epstein http://www.zemerchai.org/about_eleanor.htm and Benjie Ellen Schiller http://urj.org/about/faculty/?syspage=article&item_id=97481. Morning prayer flooded with the light of floor to ceiling bay windows began my day in harmony. And my heart melted several times, my eyes welling up, moved by the harmonies, the beauty and the sheer power of music emerging directly from the heart to the rarified air of the mountains