I am a Yid. I like to rock. Veitur!

- [ Saturday, April 17, 2004 ] -
How does that go, again?
I neglected my own rules this afternoon.

My wife, somehow, managed to trick me into waking up from my afternoon nap before Shabbos was over and brought me to shul for se'udah shlishit. I haven't been to shul in the afternoon for a long time. As much as this displeased me at the time, she makes me a better person and I thank her for that.

After the usual word from our sponsor and small D'var Torah, we all sang the first two usual z'mirot, (Mizmor L'David) Hashem Ro'i Lo Echsor and Yedid Nefesh. Towards the end of Yedid Nefesh, the Rabbi came up to me and asked me in a very non-committal way to start another song when it ends. "You know, if you want, you can start whatever song you want after this one." I was very flattered by this opportunity, and pleased that the Rabbi wanted to encourage ruach at this point, even if it was late enough that we could have skipped it and gone right into bentching. He's a fairly musical person himself, and enjoys it when I push the ruach of the shul a little veitur.

I was feeling a little pressure for what should have been a no-brainer. Pick a slow song from the back of the bentcher and start singing. Now here is where my rule comes in. The rule is: If you are going to lead the congregation in a song that may not be their normal fare, only use a tune that you feel comfortable singing in its entirety by yourself. Do not depend on members of the congregation to join in.

I picked the slow Carlebach tune, Shifchi KaMayim, and I did not know it as well as I thought I did. The tune did not come to me. I tried in vain to sing it for a few painful minutes, while some brave souls occasionally tried to help me. I'm sure there were a few people there who would be able to sing along on this simple melody, myself included, if there was only one capable person who both knew the melody and could carry a tune. Being familiar with the melody is not knowing it.

Another caveat: the second part (also called "the high part") of a Jewish song is usually catchy. The first part might not be. You have to get through the first part to get to the second part. Make sure you know both parts.

It was a very forgiving atmosphere. In that spirit, I apologize to everyone who was there and vow to have three solid tunes in my pocket next time I show up for se'udah shlishit.

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