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Yom Kippur 5755: Sweating the small stuff.

(Yes, I know - that's a picture of a fortune cookie. Let it go.)

There's an expression "Don't sweat the small stuff; and it's all small stuff." What concerns me this Yom Kippur? The small stuff because so much of the next 30'ish hours is "small" stuff.

One of my cantor colleagues wrote about his focus not on the Kol Nidrei prayer but rather on the prayer that precedes it (bishivah shel malah) - the intense awe it inspires in him with the idea of praying with an entire congregation of sinners.

My concern this year is this: I am fully prepared spiritually and vocally for the BIG pieces of music the next 30 hours will present.  Kol Nidrei, Ya'aleh, Tavo l'fanecha, the Kaddish Shaleim that almost concludes Ne'ilah - these are vocally demanding, vocally and textually dramatic hefty pieces of music (and, in the case of the Kaddish Shaleim, a bit of fun and release).

I am very concerned about the "smaller" prayers, the davvened (a la recitative) prayers that can appear to be "filler," something to be gotten through quickly without fanfare or vocal challenge. Things like the last few blessings in the various Amidot, places where I'm pretty sure no one in the congregation is paying a lot of attention, certainly to the text and definitely not to the melody. It's easy to let my mind wander, things to get through quickly without fuss. Can I maintain intensity and focus?

At the UJC we have 8 recitations of the Viddui, the Yom Kippur confessional. By the time we get to recitation number 5 or 6 (in the afternoon service), am I really paying attention or am I "mind wandering" through something to be gotten through?  Can I maintain my focus and intensity through all those al cheyt shechatanu (for the sin we have committed ...) iterations?

My goal is to sweat all that "small" stuff because that's where I'm going to look for my relationship with God.

To anyone who may read this, g'mar chatimah tovah - may we all be SEALED for a good year in the Book of Life.


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