I have so much to say about the Yomim Noraim this year that I can’t possibly type it up right now. A new experience for me is that I wasn’t even hungry after Maariv and Kiddush Levana for the beautiful spread that Deena prepared for us at home.
For now, I just want to have one thing noted for the future generations of web-archaeologists, the Internet-miners that will find dusty websites underneath several layers of rubble of newer websites.
First the background: The Mincha-Neila piece of Yom Kippur is always a difficult one to time properly. The rule of thumb that gabbaim and rabbis and all shul time schedulers know is that Mincha is scheduled for 3 hours before the end of the fast. How those three hours work out varies from year to year, even when you’re working with the same Baalei Tefilla. And we were not. Then there is a short talk between the two. Like the last runner on a relay-race team, it is up to the Baal Neila to make it all fit. Sometimes, he finds himself having to rush through, lest the first sin of a large group of pure souls in the new year be “cantoricide”.
But sometimes it’s the other way around. Mincha went by quickly. Yom Kippur isn’t ending any earlier. So it’s up to the “Baal Neila” to stretch things out. There’s no rush. In fact, as everyone knows, for better AND for worse, time slows down during that last hour.
This year, I felt that it was for better. The minute hand on the watch was not moving. I felt that I, and the whole shul, were able to savor each “Keil Melech” paragraph, each repetition of the 13 middos, each line, that very last “Hamelech Hakadosh”, that very last “MELECH, mocheil v’soleiach La’avonoseinu, … Mekasdeish Yisrael V’Yom Hakippurim”, that last “Oseh Hashalom”, the last avinu malkeinus, savor each use of the new word “Chasmeinu” instead of “Kasveinu”. and that last L’eila L’eila, and the Sheimos (as they are called) at the end. And there was no rush to the finish line. I felt like I imagined a sommelier feels when rolling some old Chateau LaFite 1955 wine over his tongue and inside his cheek before swallowing.
To feel that way about any mitzvah, any tefilla, any divine thought or word… Ah…