Sorry this blog came in late, but I had to wait until I watched the American Idol finale. Now I admit right off the bat that writing about anything having to do with an idol is ironic for the Holiday of Shavuot – the very day we celebrate the giving of the Torah, which has as its tenet not to worship idols. Irony not lost on me.
But there actually is a tie-in here. Watching the finale I couldn’t believe what a production the show had become. I was remembering back to season one with Justin and Kelly and how it was mostly just them on the stage singing. Now we were all treated to star-studded performances, light shows and explosions every other minute. It felt a little like the Billboard Music Awards.
Interestingly, Shavuot was also a time of sound and light shows. The deliverance of the Torah came with thunder and lightning and noise so loud the Israelites had to beg for it to stop they were so overwhelmed. (I have to admit at times I felt like that watching AI)
What was all this show for?
Sometimes we need to get people’s attention. Loud, exciting explosions and flashes of light will do that. It’s a way of saying: here’s something you really need to hear! Sometimes it reflects the majesty of the moment. The pomp and circumstance accompanying royalty is an example. Sometimes the “show” creates an emotional connection. Hear Beethoven’s Ninth or Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Sometimes it is part and parcel of the nature of the experience – lightning just is shocking and thunder can cut you to your core. I would imagine that the experience of God is quite overwhelming in its essence.
Yet, amidst the show, there is the “Kol d’mama daka” – the soft, quiet voice. This is where God is found. There can be a lot of show surrounding God but to really find God, you must find the quieter parts, the points of impact – piercing your heart and settling there, entering your thoughts and lodging there.
I was so happy that the Idol finale reflected this very concept. Sure there was a lot of show, but at the core were two people with pure simple talent that made them deserve to be there. Jessica’s voice is unbelievable. Phillip’s musicality is a marvel. Phillip doesn’t offer the wham, bam show. He is music pure and simple. He hears combinations of notes and rhythm that most of us could never imagine. His music pierces your heart. His songs enter your brain and lodge there. I can’t wait for his single.
On this long weekend, let’s reflect on how sometimes sound and light shows have a place, but at the core it’s the purity of purpose and the points of impact that are truly transformational.