Am I Born Just To Serve?

Dear Readers,

Over the course of this year, I will be exploring the S Blog topics through a musical lens.  As I am a singer/songwriter, I am keenly aware of the power of music used as a tool to open us up to deeper exploration playing upon the emotions.  Some music will be original, including this post.  If you have feedback, suggestions, comments or would like to access the music off the blog, please email me.   Let the journey begin.

L’shalom,

Naomi Less

 

The Avodah Service – part of the Yom Kippur Musaf (additional) service is one of the most archaic, albeit fascinating parts of Yom Kippur.  A combination of poetry and ritual theater, prayer and magic, and of course bloody spectacle.  The centerpiece of this drama is of course the High Priest – a character we don’t know anymore but was central to the very tangible success or failure of the early Jews’ atonement exercises.  The High Priest was selected from amongst the priestly clan to do the sacred service – the Avodah.  His preparation process and the high stakes are mentioned in a variety of Jewish sources.

Today, this ritual is chanted aloud in the Yom Kippur Service, describing these ancient rites – of sacrifice, physical atonement on an effigy, sending sin out to the wilderness literally on a goat, and awaiting with trepidation for a red cord to turn white or a smoke signal that all is well – with seemingly little to relevance to our modern Jewish practice.

What must this have been like for the High Priest? Who serves that function (sacred service for the greater goal of atonement) for the Jewish people today?

I brought these source texts and challenging questions to a group of 15-year-old campers at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires to mull over.  Afterall, NL teaching about Avodahunless they are leading children’sNL teaching about Avodah 2 programming, they’re at the age where they’re going to have to sit through this Avodah service on Yom Kippur. They might as well give this some thought, right?

What emerged was an artistic exploration of Avodah – of the role of the High Priest in the first person – almost a directive for modern Jewry in Ramah Berkshires writingrelation to our religious lRamah Berkshires songworkeaders.   They studied, wrote a song in a collaborative technique I developed and helped produce it with my partner, Glenn Grossman.  Their song and lyrics are found below.

“All Eyes on Me”

Written by Camp Ramah in the Berkshires Campers: Talia Cohen, Michal Weiss, Yael Morans, Daniel Kushner, Shira Silver, Rina Dadon, Ariella Schua with Songwriter Naomi Less
Produced by Glenn Grossman with campers Yoav Jacob, Mikey Allen and Jessica Hause

This song is an exploration into the role of the High Priest with influences from the Avoda Service on Yom Kippur and the Mishna of the Preparation of the High Priest.

Verse 1
So lost and confused
Am I just being used?
I would practice to make it perfect
Now I wonder if it’s worth it
I come from so far away
Should I leave or should I stay?
Red turns to white
Keeps me up at night

All eyes on me – but they can’t see

Chorus:
Am I in charge of myself?
Is this my life at its core?
Am I born just to serve?
Am I meant for something more?
Am I just here to help?
Is this all I deserve?
I feel it’s not enough
The pressure is too much!

Verse 2:
I’m a scapegoat for others
That’s what I seem to be
Send me far away-
So you don’t have to see
I can take it
If it helps you feel okay
But I still wonder
Is this my role to play?

All eyes on me – but they can’t see

Chorus:
Am I in charge of myself?
Is this my life at its core?
Am I born just to serve?
Am I meant for something more?
Am I just here to help?
Is this all I deserve?
I feel it’s not enough
The pressure is too much!

Bridge:
That was then
This is now
I know I have a job to do
I just don’t know how

Chorus:
I’m in charge of myself
This is my life at its core
I’m born just to serve
Yet I’m meant for something more
I have always been here
And my intentions are pure
I can only help so far
But the last step is yours

To listen to more original music by Naomi Less, visit www.naomiless.com

To watch videos, visit www.youtube.com/naomiless