I. Performing music is very similar to tefila, prayer. Ideally, I want to craft each and every note for the most beautiful tone, the volume and dynamic to make it flow but build into a integral statement. But that’s impossible in the flow of time and the limitations of my own skill and concentration. I can merely try to approach that ideal. Likewise, while I try to focus on each word of the tefila, concentrate on all of its meanings, my own limitations will always prevent me from totally developing even one single word. In both cases, I can only offer my best.
II. Secular society, believing in “progress”, assumes that we know much more than our ancestors. Traditional Judaism, on the other hand, recognizes both that we know less because we’re ever farther from the original transmission of wisdom and knowledge known as the Torah, and that we do, in fact, know more because we “stand on the shoulders of giants”. This second position is only possible if we acknowledge the greatness of our past sages. If we merely dismiss them as primitive, as “dead white males who disapprove of our lifestyles”, then we also dismiss any sense of having actually learned from their wisdom. We’re reduced to trying to reinvent the wheel, but unfortunately we’ll lack the knowledge to do so.