Unetane Tokef: The “Favela Effect”
I look at this aerial photograph of some Favelas in Rio de Janeiro and I recognize a certain haunting feeling that pops up every so often when I pray: Imagine living there. Can there ever be a sense of true privacy? Would I be able to experience a sense of my own place? Is it harder to define me as an individual when living in such densely crowded conditions?
There are times when I pray that I feel as if I am just one person living in those crowded favelas. The entire creation is praying to God, vying for His personal attention. Am I just one of the crowd?
It is at such moments that I remember that God, with His Infinite powers, always sees me as an individual. The “Favela Effect,” is my own internal issue. Prayer is intended to overcome the “Favela Effect.”
“Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of each living thing.” – Unetane Tokef
The Rosh Hashanah Machzor (Prayerbook) sets out to remind us that we stand before the Ultimate Judge as individuals, important individuals, each the focus of God’s love and attention. We each live with privacy and dignity in our own secluded palace.
Each of us matters to God. The challenge is ours; to step out of the “Favela Effect” into our private and personal domain.
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