Make the Mahzor Your Own!
by Rabbi Lewis
This unprecedented year of virtual High Holiday services, we are trying many things for the first time. We are trying to get all TAA members to hear the shofar blown at least once during the month of Elul. We are inviting you to multiple opportunities for learning during Elul and we are trying to get a mahzor (High Holiday prayer book) into everyone’s hands for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
While you can borrow a book from TAA, there is also an option to purchase a mahzor. (If you want to make the mahzor your own, but are not currently in a position to purchase one, I’ve got a deal for you - see below.) I am very excited by this possibility; not because I care if you own a mahzor, but because if you do own a mahzor, you are more likely to make it your own. Why is that important?
Mature prayer is deeply personal and so unique for every individual. The words in each copy of the book may be identical, but the meanings and associations are different for each person who encounters them. To engage fully in prayer, we need to find our own personal relationship to the text - our unique personal questions, connections and disconnections. Of course, as our lives change, the relationship to prayers changes as well. To deepen our experience of prayer, it is helpful to record meanings, associations and reflections and so your prayer book becomes a tool for personal spiritual growth, showing the signs of loving use like the walking stick of an avid hiker.
Some of our Elul learning will focus on central prayers of the High Holidays. If participants in these sessions have their own books, they will be able to make discrete notes in their Mahzor that can be updated each year as life and relationship to the prayers change. If you want to participate in this way by attending at least one of these study sessions, but can not at this time make the purchase, please let me know and I would be honored to provide a mahzor for you.
I am told that some may find this idea of writing in a prayer book to be transgressive. If you are writing a shopping list, then I would agree. However, if your notes help you connect to the prayer and the yearnings of your heart, then that is the purpose of the book and your notes are essential. Please give it a try!
Below are two examples from my prayerbook: