top of page

Raising Your Head -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 05/18/23

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

May 18, 2023

27 Iyar 5783

Parashat Bamidbar

About fifteen years ago, the Washington Post convinced Joshua Bell—one of the world’s finest violinists—to participate in a social experiment. They asked him to dress up as a street performer and play music in a Metro station for about 45 minutes to see if people would realize what they were hearing. He threw on a baseball cap and brought his $4 million Stradivarius to L’Enfant Plaza in Washington DC, where he proceeded to play six pieces during the morning rush hour (click here for the video). Over the course of the 45 minutes, he made about $50 in tips—far less than it would cost to buy a single ticket to see him perform with a symphony. Of the roughly 1,000 people who passed by, only one spoke up to say that he recognized Joshua Bell as a world-renowned violinist. (That person contributed $20 of the $50 in tips.) As with any social experiment, the results could be interpreted in different ways. Perhaps, we don’t value something that we get for free. Perhaps, we can’t focus on beautiful music when we are in a rush to get to work. Perhaps, most of us just don’t know very much about classical musical. Or alternatively, it means that the setting matters. One cannot fully appreciate a musical performance in a Metro station. There’s too much going on. One has too many other things on the mind. It’s a lot easier to appreciate a virtuoso performance when sitting comfortably in a quiet concert hall. The same is true in religious life. There are certainly benefits to participating in services and programs from home (like sitting on one’s own couch and access to one’s refrigerator). And for those who are unable to get to the synagogue for any reason, then remote participation is invaluable. However, for the rest of us, there’s nothing quite like being in the physical space. Just this past Shabbat, it was wonderful to see some members of our community, who had been attending by Zoom but had not returned to the synagogue in person for years, sitting in our sanctuary. Separately, several of them approached me to say how amazing it was to be back in the building. They appreciated being able to stay connected to the synagogue through technology, but it simply cannot compare to the in-person experience. Looking at our calendar for the next month or so, it’s amazing to see how many in-person events are coming up. It’s starting to feel like 2019 again! We are celebrating B Mitzvah, Confirmation and graduation. We have Mitzvah Day this Sunday. We have Shavuot Night Live, the Chai Honors cocktail party, Board Installation, and Men’s Club Scotch Night. And I’m sure that I’m missing some others. This week, we also begin reading the Book of Numbers, which begins with a census. The Hebrew phrase for counting the Israelites is “שְׂאוּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ כׇּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל”—which literally means to lift up the head of each Israelite. There was a physical interaction that was part of being counted. I definitely felt that when members of the community returned to the building this past Shabbat. I’d sure love to count a few more folks in the coming weeks at some of the amazing programs and services that are on the schedule. Shalom, RAF.

Recent Posts

See All

No Idea - Chronicle Online/The WORD 07/18/2024

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah July 18, 2024 12 Tamuz 5784 Parashat Balak Perhaps, you were interested in watching Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby on Monday when country singer Ingrid Andre

Happy 4th! -- CHRONICLE Online/The WORD 07/04/24

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah July 4, 2024 28 Sivan 5784 Parashat Sh'lach When it comes to the 4th of July, I’m as guilty as anyone else. I see it as an opportunity to eat barbecue, go swimming a


bottom of page