Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Gift

I am not into gifts on Chanuka. They are not what the holiday is about. I am not into chazzanim (cantors). Their singing often seems to me to be more about performance than prayer. Yet there I was in shul (synagogue) on Shabbos (Saturday) morning,the last day of Chanuka, thinking about gifts as the chazzan led the prayers with beautiful tunes and a gentle voice.

I found myself thinking of a quote from running’s James Dean, Steve Prefontaine. Pre as he was known said that “to give anything less than your best was to waste the gift”. Was he correct? Was giving your best enough, or perhaps do we owe something more to the Giver of our gifts?

The man leading prayers has a soul-full voice. Not a soulful voice, but a voice that is full of soul in the truest sense. That someone with that voice would sing is to be expected. That he chooses to sing in a way designed to inspire others is not. As I stood there, listening at first, then singing along, the weariness that inevitably sets in for me towards the end of Chanuka melted away.

To give of your gifts to others is the best way to use your gift.

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