Chava bat Chana

I like to belt it out in song. The Kahal Shabbat service at Beth Emet: The Free Synagogue bursts with energy and joy. It’s perfect for me. Then, one Shabbat, it struck me that I could also pray by listening. This story is the result of that lovely Sabbath in which I let my song be sung — and my prayers prayed — by this wonderful community, by listening to the prayer. I still belt it out most of the time. Once in awhile, I pray with my ears instead. To listen along as you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.


Chava bat Chana
     Chava bat Chana doesn’t pray like you or me. We sing. We chant. We lift our voices to G-d Most High, but Chava doesn’t utter a single word. She sits in the back of the synagogue, her arms resting gently in her lap. She takes a deep breath, then another. Her eyes close, her pulse slows, her mind empties until everything that makes her Chava bat Chana is still and quiet and ready. She listens to the one voice woven of the many. Yitzchack, who’s just buried his wife. Deborah, who’s ready to give birth. Chaim, who’s destined to become a rabbi. And Miriam, who lost a leg to illness. And Chava hears it all. Grief and joy. Pride and fear. The one voice woven of the many. And tears, tears well up from heaven into Chava’s heart.
Chava bat Chana doesn’t pray like you or me. She prays the secret prayer of our mothers, and their mothers and their mothers before them.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

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