Sunday, October 20, 2013

שלשלת הדורות

The aron hakodesh (and matching bimah) in my beit knesset are originally from Padua; they were built for the Sephardi Beit Knesset there in the early 1700's and brought to Israel along with many other Italian aronot (and, sometimes, complete batei knesset) in the 1950's. (The Padua community wrote a beautiful letter to accompany it; scroll down to see it and click to enlarge.)

It's an extremely impressive work of art in and of itself- the Ramchal, who was rav in Padua when it went up, was inspired to write a whole book and poem on it when he saw it. (That first painting is by Yitzhak Holtz, an artist and one of our mitpallelim, a Levi who regularly washes my hands.) It's held up very well over the years and remains magnificient; the whole shul, in fact, including its more modern elements- not to mention its wonderful members- is very nice indeed, and regularly awes visitors who've just stopped in for Mincha.

In any event, the aron has an elaborate fence, wrought iron with gold leaf, around the duchan. And every now and then, as I turn around to begin my bracha, my tallit catches on that fence. (Mostly Shabbat, for some reason- maybe because my Shabbat tallit is newer and has more puffy fringes, or maybe because the tekhelet strings on that one are quite long. Or maybe because I'm the Shaliach Tzibur almost every weekday. :-) Or, most likely, because there are many more kohanim on Shabbat, so I'm closer to the railing.)

It can be a bit annoying, especially when I'm trying to raise my hands to deliver the bracha and physically can't because my tallit is literally holding me down. And annoyed I was for the first few times, until a nice thought came to me: I bet the kohanim back in the mid-1700's had the same problem. I like connecting to previous generations that way.

By the way, check out that tekhelet link. I'm supposed to be the YU liason, whatever that means, but I'll enjoy it whatever my role.

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