#BlogElul 8: Hear

Today I had the privilege of shadowing our cantor as she conducted a funeral, and I learned something about hearing.

Our congregation currently does not have a rabbi, so some of the lay people, such as myself, are pitching in to help lessen our cantor’s load. She is a huge asset to our community, and we want to make sure she doesn’t burn out!

Aside from leading services with her beautiful voice, she also teaches all of the Bnei Mitzvah kids, teaches adults, visits the sick and conducts weddings, baby namings and funerals.

The plan is to have me learn how to conduct funerals as well, so I can take over when she’s not available. I sat in as she met the family and skilfully drew out their stories about their mother. Asking questions is what I do, so I was fascinated to watch her style and learn how she does it.

Today I followed her as she led the casket and mourners to the grave, and listened as she delivered a beautiful, insightful eulogy.

Afterwards I said to her, “You were going to send me your notes for the eulogy.” She smiled and said, “I’ll send them to you now. I wanted you to hear my delivery first, before you read it.”

Hearing is a very old sense that we have – before we can see the world, we can hear our mother’s heartbeat. We sat around campfires and told stories long before we invented writing, let alone photography and cinematography. It’s a very deep experience. It’s the reason we speak a eulogy rather then projecting it on a screen.

I will continue to shadow her and learn, and soon enough will be conducting funerals on my own.

I will remember the importance of hearing.

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