Saturday, January 21, 2012
The watchful eye of others
Ever since my mother, z'l (may her memory always be with us) died, I've felt a strange duality. On one hand, I feel emotionally vulnerable and spiritually damaged. On the other hand, I've been thrust into a position, whether during the Shiva or now during prayers, of being the center of attention. My natural inclination is to be left alone to my thoughts. I couldn't do that during the Shiva as my home was a constant stream of visitors with whom I wanted to socially interact. And now, as a prayer leader, I am still still thrust into the middle of community. Perhaps the rabbinic tradition does not want to leave too much social and psychic space to the mourner, lest he or she come to curse his fate or worse, his Maker. In a way, by physically moving me to the front of the synagogue, others can watch and hear me utter my prayers, making sure I do not stray. The message is, "you may be angry at God, but we're keeping an eye on you to make sure you don't break your relationship with Him."