Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Would you like some schmaltz herring with your malawach?

A number of people in the NF's shul told me that my Pesach round-up post was dry, not funny and far too technical. Those same people then mentioned to me that they'd noticed that I haven't blogged in a while. The truth, I have been waiting for someone to royally mess up so that I would have some material to play with...

Such an event occurred at Shabbat Mincha this past week.

This week's theme: Consistency
Before we get to our aforementioned Shabbat Mincha....a public service announcement

"J" of seuda shlishit fame is an excellent baal tephila with a pleasant voice and excellent nusach. But what makes J special is the fact that in the 25+ years since J's bar mitzvah, J has not once altered his nusach or his selection of melodies. Such regularity can generally only be experienced through daily ingestion of Metamucil or a hell of a lot dried fruit. Thus it came as a complete (pleasant) surprise this past Shabbat when J decided to use a new melody for Kel Adon. Well done can you pass me another roll of toilet paper? the guy who used the loo before me seemed to have finished the roll.

Shabbat Mincha
A 13-year old oleh from Australia whose bar mitzvah was only a few months ago led Mincha. First things first, I'd like to give the kid a hearty shkoyach on his willingness to go out there and get some practice as a baal tephilla. Mincha on shabbat is the perfect time to get up there and learn how to be a chazzan not to mention let off some of the steam from lunch's cholent if you know what I mean (there is a reason we say גַּם כִּי-אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת at seudah shlishit)

Given that this kid is a) an oleh chadash b) showed tremendous bravery in davening and c) I'm feeling generous today, we will not be gonging him. Nonetheless, it is important to point out that most inanimate objects could do a better job davening.

OK, so the kid doesn't have the voice of Pavarotti (or Yankel for that matter). that's ok. His mincha sucked because it lacked consistency:

1. Ashrei was said in an Israeli accent
2. By Chazarat Hashatz he was alternating between an Israeli accent, an Israeli accent with a "sa" (avos instead of avot) and the occasional oy as in goymel instead of gomel (his father's accent).
3. He started in Nusach Ashkenaz
4. He reread Elokai Avraham, Elokai yitzchak etc two or three times.
5. He said Baruch....Magen Avraham twice
(OK 4&5 had nothing to do with consistency but it was worth the mention because everyone answered amen twice)
6. Kaddish Titkabel included vayatzmach purkanei
7. the melody/nusach would sort of be there at the beginning of each paragraph and would be gone by the end.

The mitpallel was left feeling confused and kind of icky. When the NF got home and the NF's wife offered him Malawach with schmaltz herring for Seudah Shlishit it was just too much. While the NF likes ethnic food as much as the next guy....(can you pass me another roll of toilet paper please) sometimes mixing and matching different cultures goes and sometimes it doesn't.

Playing with melodies is one thing. I was once at Selihot where Chaim Lazer Herstik (and his amazing choir) sang one stanza of L'shmoa el harina to Adon Haselichot. The NF uses Los Biblicos Cantan (a Ladino Romanza) which most Ashkenazim know as "the Sephardi Tzur Mishalo" for V'shameru in Chazarat Hashat"z of Shabbat Shacharit....but somethings - like nusach and accents - require consistency.

Finally, I'd like to thank Yoni R. for opening the gate to my house this morning. I rewarded Yoni with a cute dirty joke which can't be repeated here becasue Rav Lau may be reading my blog.

Happy Wednesday,

the NF


The Big Gong said...

I always thought we said "va'tisa'aini ru'ach, va'eshma acharai kol ra'ash gadol" because of the cholent on shabbat afternoon.

Nusach_Wannabe said...

I love your blog. What should I do to make sure I don't get gonged? How can I improve my nusach? Are there recordings one can study? How can I make sure I don't learn from someone who would get gonged?