Sunday, January 6, 2008

I prayed on Shabbat!

OK, being that I don’t usually write in a story telling manner, I wanted to try that a bit;

Well, guess what? I went to ‘shul’ this past Shabbat morning! And the funniest thing is I REALLY enjoy going, but the closest Moroccan Synagogue is pretty far from my house, and walking back I would stall the meal. But that’s only a secondary reason, the main reason is that I’m usually way too busy sleeping, which is why I barely ever go, which is why when I do go I really enjoy it.

I happened to wake up early on Shabbat, which happens to me so rarely I can count all the times it’s happened. It took me around an hour to get there, and surprise; no one was there. So I went in and waited. Some old guy sat next to me who was sort of crazy…but he gave candies to every kid, so, in a way he’s a lot more caring than me, because I wouldn’t even fathom doing that, so who’s crazy?

You know, it’s funny; I’ve been to many different Moroccan synagogues in many different countries, and I think it’s safe to say that the one here in Brooklyn is one of the best. Some of the best architecture I’ve seen in a synagogue. One of the best Hazzanim I’ve ever heard. The congregants are also very participating, understand the tunes, and sound nice.

Well, after a while we got started, and there was just a lovely tune for everything. I thanked G-d I’m not a Eurpean Jew (the Lor”d knows what they have to endure in their places of worship!). I kept noticing the architechture, and how similar it was to the great synagogue in Madrid (Spain) though a lot smaller. I thought how one day people would come here and say “there were once Jews who prayed here”; Hopefully soon.

One thing I want to say about the prayers is that I’m a 'pesukei d’zimra' addict! Pesukei d’zimra are the verses of psalms read before the recitation of 'shm’a' and the actual prayer, to get everyone ‘warmed up’. And warm up it does, and where else as in a Moroccan synagogue! For me there’s always this absolutely sublime feeling that I get when the sequence that starts from 'hodu' and ends by 'yishtabach' is done. Now I see why atheists need a place to go pray! It’s a lot of fun; the Muslims (especially Arab-Muslims) from Morocco to Iraq (and beyond) also have a great time praying, as do they in Churches world wide. Again, I sometimes wonder about European Jews, but I suppose it’s their issue, not mine..

Anyway, after a great prayer session the Torah was read very nicely (I mean, I myself barely ever hear it read that nice), but it was a really long parasha, and something was a’ cookin’ downstairs, so I felt a little sick and had to leave early.

Well, all I can conclude with is that I hope to make it to prayers all three times on Shabbat from now on!



Shoshana said...

What's wrong with the Ashkenazi shuls? I've never been to a Sfardi shul, except for one in Turkey that had been bombed. Please enlighten us how your shuls are better than the Juhuro, Ashkenazim, and Mizrachim. I admit not knowing much about the difference.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Hey. What's Juhuro? Are those the Japanize Jews or something?

Anyway; um, there's a very long history of difference in costoms, opinions, liturgy, music and just about almost everything else between Ashkenazi and Sefaradi Jews. Though recentely because we're all in Israel and the west together we have all become much more similar to each other (we're all basically western Jews with an eastern European Jewish mentality. And personally, I try to avoid saying things like this on the blog, but I consider the mindsets of eastern European jews to be one of Judaisms biggest enemies, and I consider it my responsibility to try as hard as I can do rid myself of their influence, and get back into the origional ideals of the Sefaradim (which, by the way, is one of the reasons I sign my name s"t, which according to some understandings stands for 'sfaradi tahor', or 'pure sefaradi (just used by Spanish Jews to differentiate themselves from Jews from the Muslim countries to where they came, but ultimantly came to be a distinction from Ashkenazi).

[Again, real fast just for the records; I consider Ashkenazim to be Jews from Europe with the large majority being rom eastern Europe (with the exclusion of Sefaradic communities inn England, Germany and the Netherlands). Sefaradim (in my broad translation)are Jews from the balkans (Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Turkey etc.) and from all Muslim countries, though mainly in Arab countries (and more extensively from anywhere that's not considered Ashkenazi (India for example).]

OK, waaay too much useless information over there. Anyway, back to the question;"Please enlighten us how your shuls are better than the Juhuro, Ashkenazim, and Mizrachim. I admit not knowing much about the difference."- OK, I should have written an essay about this in third grade "why Moroccan synagouges are better than Ashkenazi ones"! But siriously, this could take up a lot of space (maybe I'll post about it). Very basically traditionally, eastern European Jews respected their holy places very minimally, had no concentration on their prayers, beause they didn't understand them, and to the ear trained in the beautitudes of classical Arab music, quite frankly, sunded pretty bad (unlike the western European shuls that had elaborite choiors (how the hell do you spell that?). [disclaimer; usually when I refer to the eastern European Jews, I refer mainly to the 'ultra traditionalists'].

Anyway, I hope this ends up making some grammarcal,and perhaps even logical sense.

העבד ס"ט

Shoshana said...

The Juhuro are the Mountain Jews of the Caucus and Azerbaijan, but not Georgia. Considering that 90% of the Diaspora in America is Ashkenazi, you're always going to feel like a minority; sometimes I prefer being just Jewish especially when I have very few Jews to interact with.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

I don't know, I never prefer to be just Jewish. I see them, and I see many a time I'm not so similar to them. Last year I was working in Orlando FL (which has almost no Orthodox community) I felt much more 'at home' with a Moroccan Mulslim guy than liberal or traditional Ashkenazi guys. We shared religion, but that's just about it (I mean, religion is my life, so that's important, but there are other aspects of culture).

But again, I like to feel that I'm following Judaism, not 'ashkenazi-ism', which anyway I have nothing to do with. Eastern European Jews who's only knolege of Judaism is Matza ball soup and Hunuka are just as alien to me as they are to the Christians (i.e. if it's only the religion that binds us, than those withhout religion are defenetly far from me. Because all they know is 'Jewish culture', but there is no Jewish culture, being that Jews from other places don't share their culture; but for inevitable reasons Jews from eastern Europe became the vast majority of Jews). Know what I'm saying?

ת דוד said...

I've noticed quite alot of people have begun the practice of postscripting s"t / ס”ט, which had widely fallen out of use in previous generations.

My conception was always that it was used to refer to oneself of complete Iberian descent (sefaradi tahor). I've heard alot of contrary explainations though and have certainly seen some mizrahim use this abbreviation.

One explained that it is used by some to distiguish themselves as NOT of Marrano descent. This seems exactly opposite what I always thought though, as perhaps the only places where Jews are of complete Iberian descent are places where Marranos found refuge and communities enjoyed strong ties with non-Sefaradi Jews (Amsterdam, Morocco, London, ect.)

My reason for not using this is first and foremost because I see no inherent distinguishment from me and a Jew of other descent, not the least from a righteous convert of Ashkenazi talmid hakham, to whom I would be shamed to approach in an erudite or elitist manner.

And also because I have no idea what it actually means, if not Sefaradi Tahor. Even if it means this, I am confused as to what I would be saying by it's use. I am Spanish, so would I say I am ס”ט because I am Iberian? Or would I avoid it because I may well have some Anousi ancestry from Spain/Portugal?

I recently read that the abbreviation is actually a reference to a more extended term meaning "servant of G^d." In this case, I would very proudly use the abbreviation.

Do you have any elaborating thoughts?

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Oh, thanks for noticing (as well as reading this post and commentary)!

My Rebbe in yeshiva once asked me why I wrote s"t after my name. I think I said "because Sefaradim are pure", to which he said "so why don't Ashkenazim write 'Ashkenazi Tahor'?". I said "'cause they're not!"

But again, like you said, there are many differing interpretations to the custom, and different Sefaradi scholars had different ones in mind when using it.

It's true "Sfaradi Tohar" is one of the interpretations (as well as the one I usually have mind). As I meantioned to shoshana there, as far as I heard among the main things it denoted was not being of the same descent as the Jews of the communities to which they came (Morocco for example. The Spanish Jews tried to stick together for the first few centuries). Though it could definetely be 'as opposed to' Ashkenazim as well. The Spanish Jews were pretty sceptical of Jews from far off lands who 'don't do things properly' (in general Jews from France Germany or Poland were usually forced to sit in a different part of the synagogue when visiting Spain, ..for example).

Though after a while it just was sort of used as a conduit of Sefaradi religious pride (as opposed to Ashkenazi). The Hid"a for example wrote s"t after his name even though his mother was of Eastern European descent!

But again, some have argued that it could mean "סיפיה לטב"- "his end should be good", or even the seemingly meaningless "סין טין".(?)

Either way the scholars in my Moroccan Rabbinic background use it, and I try to associate with them (at least in a blog!).

Though, like you said, we're no better in essence than any person "אשר בשם ישראל יכונה" or any person really who walks justly with G-d. But even in a democratic world, one still cannot loose connection with ones ancestors (i.e. it might be more 'emotionally' as well as 'culturally healthy' for the Dalli lamas' son to experience G-d through Buddhism, and not by becoming a Hassidic Rebbe, you know what I'm saying?)

Well, I hope I said something that can be perceived as somewhat enlightening (even though I didn't go into much detail).

Yo man, your blog is not viewable. Like, what is that about man?!

העבד ס"ט

(ps- ע"ה used to be short for "eved hashem' among Sefaradic scholars while they were alive "as opposed to "alav hashalom" after they died.)