Let All Who Have Breath...
This coming week marks the beginning of the High Holy Days, the Days of Awe, starting with Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year.
Nearly 130 years ago, a young man, a peddler from Lithuania, came to the United States. He settled in a small town in upstate New York. At the time, Hoosick Falls, NY was known as a company town, the home of the Walter A. Wood Mowing and Reaping Machine Company. He however got a job as a clerk at a newly opened drygoods store called M. Lurie & Company, and eventually married the younger sister of the owner of the store.
Within Hoosick Falls, a congregation was forming from a number of the newly arrived immigrants. This newly formed shul named themselves Love Peace. They needed a chazzan, a cantor, for their High Holiday services and hired this peddler to help lead their services. He might have opened services by singing "Kol haneshamah tehallel Yah! "Let all who have breath praise the Lord!" (Psalm 150:6) In his tradition, the proper name for God is "YHWH," to which we added vowels to make Yahweh.
Paul wrote "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). You may have struggled to figure out how one might do this. But quite literally, everyone of us praises God's name all day, every day, by breathing in (YH) and breathing out (WH). So take a second, and quite intentionally, breath in and out. Kol haneshamah tehallel Yah! "Let all who have breath praise the Lord!"
Oh, by the way, that peddler in Hoosick Falls... he was my great grandfather. Praise the Lord indeed. Hallelujah!
This Sunday, at the offertory, the handbells under the direction of Alice Rucker, will play "For the Beauty of the Earth," arranged by Sandra Eithun and accompanied on piano by our own Brian Dyer. At communion, the choir will sing "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" by Thomas Tallis.