Dear Matzav Shmooze,
For many Jews, last night was the first night of Selichos, a night where the first stirs of the Yomim Noraim begin to creep into the heart and soul as the Shliach Tzibbur sings the somber Kaddish announcing the arrival of the annual season of repentance.
Which person remains unmoved as the entire shul screams out “Va’Yavor Hashem?” Who doesn’t feel a sudden trepidation and awe as the Aron Kodesh is opened and we cry out to Hashem “Shma Koleinu?”
I will be the first to admit that when a friend dragged me to a Selichos night Kumzitz/Melave Malka I was more than skeptical. I was sure it would be a mockery of this holy night.. Singing and dancing at Selichos? Who ever heard of such a thing? I was positive that this was just an excuse for people with no sense of the night’s seriousness to have a party.
I was wrong.
Instead of a roomful of spiritually empty people I found a crowd of people vying for hisorerus, ready to begin anew their annual quest for elevation in the month of Elul. When the speaker talked, the room was hushed, everyone leaning in to catch his words. The speaker was spectacular, his impassioned words leaving a mark on all.
During the singing, the intensity in the room was tangible. Jews of all different types joined together in one voice to welcome in the “Melech BaSadeh.” This was no merrymaking party, this was Avodas Hashem.
I, along with all the others who attended the Selichos event, left the night on a spiritual high. I made sure to thank my friend profusely for forcing me to come to this event.
Honestly, I preferred my usual Selichos that I go to every year and will probably return there next year. But had I not attended the event myself I would be one of the people shaking their head at low level our generation has sunk to. Instead I’ve learned that there are many different ways to serving Hashem and that just because something is different than what I’m used to does not make it less valid.