Elisson in an introspective moment.
[Image by John Spink, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.]
Just in case you were wondering what I do most weekday mornings...
...here I am at morning minyan, resting head on arm in the characteristic posture of the Tachanun service, a short series of psalms and supplications recited at most weekday morning services.
The photograph was taken a week ago last Thursday, two days before Yom Kippur. Right now we’re in a Tachanun-free zone: due to the confluence of so many holidays, and because of the general happiness of the season, we won’t be reciting Tachanun again until after the next lunar month begins. Too much of a downer, I suppose.
Check out the leather straps on my left arm. Those are tefillin-straps, used to attach a small leather box to the arm. You can see another box (bayit) on my forehead. Each of the two boxes contains small, hand-inscribed parchment scrolls with specific verses of Scripture. The tefillin are worn during weekday morning services in observance of the Biblical commandment that “thou shalt bind [these words] on your arm, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” Leave it to us Jews to take things so literally.
Tefillin are also known as phylacteries, a term that comes from the Greek. Mine are the big, heavy-duty models favored by professionals: Pro-phylacteries. For the prevention of spiritual disease only.
As it happens, this week we do not wear tefillin, owing to it being the Sukkot festival. Why dat? That’s because tefillin are not worn on major holidays and Sabbaths. On intermediate festival days (such as today), it’s local option...but our tradition is to not wear them.
It occurred to me that all the photo above needed was a caption, and we could start a whole new Internet meme...