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Elul 4: The Essence of Understanding

"Do you really understand?"

This question is what makes my voice teacher great.

Even beyond her expertise, experience, and compassion, what makes her great is her insistence that I be able to translate her thoughts and teachings into my own language. What she's asking is if I internalize her lesson, the nuances of muscle movement, the inner secrets of the vocal chords' relationship with sound and words.

To be honest, I admit that sometimes I nod, trying to look intelligent. I don't want to appear foolish and ignorant, so sometimes I mildly evade the truth. Of course I hear the words and I understand their syntax and grammar and shallow, surface meaning. But she's asking for more: she's asking me to burrow ever deeper until I feel the essence in my kishkes.

How many times have we stood in prayer, reading the words, understanding the syntax and grammar and shallow, surface meaning ... and little else? Maybe this will be the year that I burrow ever deeper into the text, integrating the essence into my soul.

It's a worthy goal.


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