I love Artscroll. Not because of the obvious fact that when you’re davening and counting pages you get to divide the page number in half, and WaLah davening is half over.
I took a good look this Yom Kippur at the English translation, and you know what, the tefilos are beautiful.
People ask, why do we all daven the same words? How can we all say the same thing and convey our own message?
Besides for the explanation that same piece of music played by someone else will always be different, therein lies the difference. I want to focus on the explanation that we have lost the ability to fully express ourselves to Hashem and Anshe Knessess Hagedolah set up organized prayer for the laymen, so everyone can reach Hashem with eloquence.
Whenever I heard that explanation I always thought, can these same words really express what I want to say to what someone else is trying to convey? Are these words really that beautiful. I never took the time to read the English translation. Following along with the Chazzan today, I fell in love with davening.
Take Kesser for an example.
The first line, (this is from the Artscroll translation)
“A crown, here give You, O Hashem, our G-d – the angels of the multitude above, together with Your people Israel who are assembled below”
As I was reading this I got such a visual picture of what it might look like, and it blew me away.
And there was plain old beautiful analogies, and metaphors which I as an English teacher appreciated.
“A man’s origin is from dust and his destiny is back to dust, at risk of his life he earns his bread; he is likened to a broken shard, withering grass, a fading flower, a passing shade, a dissipating cloud, a blowing wind, flying dust, and a fleeting dream.”
I can go on and on….it was beautiful.
Yom Kippur was good.
And then I looked at the seating chart and saw “Please do not sit in a seat WHICH is reserved” and I cringed at the obvious grammatical error rooted in Yiddish transliteration and the fact that I noticed it…on Yom Kippur.