Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Good and Bad of Praying

Well I can see that God doesn't want me to pray that much to him. I got ill on Rosh Hashana and wanted to pray for Gilad Shalit's release in synagogue. I even had a special prayer printed out on a large piece of paper and the person leading the service asked me to read the prayer. But I couldn't go after all that preparation and the piece of paper just hung out in my kitchen along with the other "to do" things, in a pile. And thankfully, despite my not having prayed for his release, he was released anyways.

Now there's Sukkot. I had gone to see Israeli heavy metal band Orphaned Land in Tel Aviv and we were one of the very few over 50s there. We waited in line with all these teens wearing black Metallica and Marilyn Manson t-shirts and they looked at us as if we were parental spies. Then we just talked to them and I think they were actually thrilled that someone of our age would listen to them at all, never mind sharing a love of the same music. Some of these kids flew in from Switzerland and Germany, where this band has a huge following and plays metal festivals in front of 100,000 fans. I especially love the band's ethos, which is to get Arabs (from many different countries) and Israelis/Jews together through their music with the way they combine religious texts/music into their songs. Who said heavy metal is all about war, blood and destruction? And to top it all off, their lead singer looks like a tattooed Jesus. In fact, one teenage fan from Europe said if Kobi was Jesus, he'd go to church.

I was surprised that standing in the front, people were friendly, that I wasn't crushed, that people wouldn't kill me (as I feared from going to a metal concert)and I even sensed a spiritual energy from the audience to the band and vice versa. Their music is metal, but has a Middle Eastern element in it, and as they explained in a video shown right before their show, they used to sit in synagogues filled with Iraqi and Libyan old men and listen to their liturgy which would the get incorporated into their music. I laughed as I pictured these long-haired tattooed men, sitting in shul with these elderly men, who probably didn't know what hit them. That's why I'm so intrigued. One fan said he had come from Germany and would never have stepped foot in Israel if it weren't for them, and was astounded at how warm, friendly and open Israelis are. "They even invited me to stay over their homes and they are total strangers!" But our age showed as after the show, I didn't stick around for the "meet and greet" the band had with their fans and as it was, we got home at 4:00 am, even after our own children trudged in with their partying.

The next morning my daughter and I were having our coffee together and she told me how much she loved her boyfriend.

She said, "He told me that he hadn't had dated seriously in years and that for a year and a half, all he did was pray that he'd find the right one."

And I looked at my daughter, the one who usually complains about everything, and laughed until I was hoarse and I thought, - oh dear. This poor guy prays to God for a year and a half and this is what he gets? Oy vey. But he does seem to believe that God has answered his prayers and that's all that matters.

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