Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yes, Tate, It was the Best

So, it's in the days before Yom Kippur and I found myself in a far corner of the King Kullen parking lot listening to Yossele Rosenblatt and letting the tears fall. No, no need for concern on anyone's part: I'm perfectly sane. I should have known how that CD was going to affect me and left it for listening at home. But I wanted, no NEEDED to listen to Yossele, because that's what my father would have been doing right about now.

Anyone who has lost a parent will understand when I say you don't really get over it, nor should you. There will be moments when suddenly you are whisked back in time. Sometimes those moments seem so real, so much in the moment now. But they are not. And the tears can flow.

My father, Yechezkel ben Yitzchak a"h, was the middle of five children and the son of a Rosh Yeshiva and rebbi. My zeidah was one of those for whom the beis medrash was truly the right home. That same spark that lit his path to learning was not there as strongly in his sons. They were frum, could pick up a sefer to learn, but were not driven to it in the same way as their father. Zaidah knew his children well, and so each of the sons was sent to learn a trade.

But God put a different spark into my father, gave him a beautiful gift of his own: his voice. Tate had a lyrical tenor voice, one capable of producing chazonish "kopf shtimeh." But it was not only that beautiful voice that was the gift; it was much, much more. When my father was a Baal Tefila he sang not from his voicebox but from his heart and soul. When he davened, the words of the tefilos came alive and took flight, yes piercing the sky and the shaarei shomayim. When my father davened on Yom Kippur falling tears was common enough. When my father was the chazan there was no talking in the "audience." My father was a shaliach tzibur in the best and highest sense of those words.

Tate loved chazonish music and I came to love it too. I remember many an hour sitting by his feet as he listened to Yossele Rosenblatt and Moishe Koussevitzky and the rare recordings of other of the great chazonim. You would not hear in our house the types of comments just too common now, about how the chazon shlepps out the davening and who needs all that gorgling.

So yes, I listen to Yossele Rosenblatt and his beautiful renditions of our tefilos in the days before Yom Kippur, and yes, I am once again sitting next to my Tate and watching the feelings of his heart play out on his face. From others I learned the halachas of Yom Kippur and the other holidays, I learned what tefilos to say when. From my father I learned what those words sounded like and looked like and felt like when heart and soul sent them soaring. Tate gave to me and to others many gifts while he was alive, but among the most precious of those gifts is the memory of what kavanah in davening sounds like when it's more than just words being mouthed.


Ruth said...

Beautifully written. It isn't what parents BUY their children that is important but what they give of themselves to their children that will last forever.

Anonymous said...

may his neshama have an aliya

makes me teary reading about him- beautifully written and a tribute to his lasting impression on you and others.

Anonymously said...

A beautiful tribute from a daughter to a father.

And yes you are so right, sometimes you just need to be able to cry at what no longer is and is missed so much.

Sam said...

Thought I was the only person living who still remembered Yossel Rosenblat. Nice to know there are others. Your father sounds like he would have been my type of baal tfilah. There don't seem to be too many of them around any more.

Allan said...

Seems like the only criteria for a baal tefila today is how fast can he get through the davening so the people don't start complaining that shul lasts too long. Your father sounds like the kind of baal tefila I would have found pleasure and chizuk in hearing.

I'm sorry that your father is no longer living but it sounds like you have wonderful memories of him.

G6 said...

Beautiful, touching post.

It is so important for a baal tefillah to have knowledge of and BE COGNIZANT of the meaning of the words he is uttering. The melodies, cadence and timbre should match, not fight, the meaning of the words.

Ella said...

Maybe not what you intended but I think the post teaches something important for fathers. Sometimes you hear them talking about how they don't know how to do girl things with their daughters. Maybe they should stop thinking of things as boy things or girl things and think of them as just things that a daughter could enjoy too. Listening to a chazan together was obviously a shared pleasure for both of you. But we think of chazans as being a male thing when it doesn't have to be. Fathers just need to share themself with their children and stop worrying about whether it's a gril activity or a boy activity.

Staying Afloat said...

So beautiful. His neshama should have an aliyah through the deeds of his children.

Sounds like what klal yisrael needs is a Rosh Hashanah tefillah with you father davening and G6's father blowing shofar.

Maybe next year, when Mashiach has come.

G6 said...

Amen to Staying Afloat's comment!

ProfK said...

Amen to both those last postings. And thank you readers for your kind words.

Aliza said...

Thank you for finding the words that gave such a beautiful picture of your father and his davening. My father was also a very special bal tefilah and I've never been able to describe to anyone else just how it felt to listen to him daven. Thanks for giving me the words.

A gmar chasima tova.

s(b.) said...

my abba loves yossele rosenblatt's chazzanos. I need to digitize his records.