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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Phylacteries: Music and Study

Recently I've noticed something I've been doing around study and prayer.

I'm book-ending these activities with music. 

This seems natural enough when we pray in a communal space. Song is an important part of prayer and in interspersed in nearly all traditions of faith in what might be considered a normal service. It is a means of prayer in that it unlocks different parts of our minds.

This seems less natural when we think of the academic world where we don't start,end, or intersperse secular learning or even religious learning with song.

My chair, yes I have luxury, has next to it several instruments as music is something I value and enjoy making. Also next to this space in my home is a short stack of books. Some historic novels, some text on specific themes, I'm reading Integral Halachah for example, as well as journals and bulletins. And what I'm finding is that I play a little and enjoy it and then move to reading and study, and then maybe move back to music.

This has been making both activities more rewarding and either was alone.

The idea struck me as I sat in tefillin writing in a journal notes that had nothing to do with the Torah portion I was studying but another experiment I'm documenting. I had davened, I had read some Torah, I was still sitting in that place of reflection and saw my other journal and jotted a note or two.  

I'd challenge you to do a little nigunim before you study with a group, or after. These things have power to aid in our learning.

Make song your tefillin, wrap yourselves in a little music.

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