Rising to the challenge

Since March my Shabbat morning minyan has been meeting on Zoom, not in person. Since June I've been attending, sort of -- I join the call on my tablet (with a headset plugged in) Friday afternoon before sundown, and most weeks the minyan is there in the morning. (Sometimes Zoom fails in some way or other.) I don't turn on video or a mic; I am a purely passive consumer of whatever is set in motion in advance. It doesn't really feel like praying, but it's a form of contact with the minyan and it's the best we can do right now.

For the last couple months they've been trying to get more people involved in the service -- do a reading, lead this prayer, etc, as a way of building engagement. In the Before Times I was one of the torah readers (though recently I'd been backing off due to some vision challenges). Sometime this summer someone asked me if I would chant torah, recording it in advance so I wouldn't be violating anything, and I did that once. (I should note that it's not really a torah service, since there's no scroll and no in-person gathering. We read or chant the portion from Sefaria but without the torah blessings.)

Often but not always, the torah reader also gives a short talk. (They've been trying to mix that up too; some people are comfortable giving a talk but can't read torah.) I was asked to read this week and was told that someone else had asked to give the talk. Fine, I said -- I prepared the torah reading, only, and we recorded it tonight.

45 minutes ago I got email -- that person backed out, and do I want to do something, recording tomorrow? (If not we would just do without, or maybe a rabbi would improvise something -- no guilt involved here.)

It's Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat before Yom Kippur. There should be something. So I started mentally outlining (not ashamed to reuse some old notes either), said yes, and started writing. I have a draft now, which I'll make another pass over tomorrow morning. It'll be an adventure!