Have your pinkie salutes wavered due to the lopsided hagba’s that usually happen at this time of year? Have you stood in place knees shaking waiting for the strongest of hagba doers to drop the scroll and you pull an early Ramadan. I sure as hell know I have, I have been waiting for that inevitable moment of crashing torah scrolls as the one sided end of the year hagba’s invade shulls everywhere in the months leading up to and after the new year.
I have almost peed in my pants many a time, as I watched the most expert of hagba doers wrap the scroll on one side very tightly and pulling all the strength to one side. I can see them straining to one side as they fight the urge to just drop it and call in the hetter control to see what they can do about the whole 40 day fasting thing.
Speaking of hagba in general I have noticed that there tend to be several different types of hagba guys.
First you have the power lifters, the guys who abruptly lift the torah before anyone can even get their pinkies ready for the point. These guys aren’t into theatrics like the smooth lifting guys, rather they are just the big guys who like to get the job done and hopefully avoid a Rabbis speech in order to get to Kiddush faster. The smooth lifter guys are like hagba hockers.
Hagba Hockers are the smooth lifters, they do a great job but they are all about theatrics. They are those guys that stand up when everyone else refuses to do hagba, and when they walk up you can hear murmurs of approval for the act they are about to complete. They always make sure their talis is on right, so it doesn’t have to be held up by the bystanders who always seem to waiting for disaster to strike the hagba lifters. I always wondered how one became one of these hagba groupies.
The Hagba Hocker Groupies are the guys who always seem to hang around the bima during hagba but never actually do hagba. They tend to be the ones who have their hands up to prevent the toppling of the torah during hagba, no matter what happens and how smooth the hagba doer is, these guys have their hands up. They also tend to be the ones who hold the talis like someone standing behind the bride holding her dress, they hold up the talis that always falls off of the hagba doer. These hagba groupies also tend to be the ones who mumble under their breath about how poor of a job the hagba guy is doing.
Ever notice that some hagba guys just cant get it right. There are the guys who do it crisscross style. In some shulls the chazzan even starts humming the crisscross will make you want to jump jump, song. They pick up the torah and it becomes a mess because the gelila guy has to untangle the crossed scrolls, which shouldn’t be part of the gelila job.
Then you have the anorexic lifters, the guys who always remember their first time doing hagba and how they could only get it open about two columns, kind of like a prude lifter who didn’t feel like spreading it wide. Then of course you have those showy guys who feel the need to spread the torah like a street walker. They spread it so wide you can make it those little letters that were stretched by the sofer to fill up more room on the parchment. The stretchers tend not to be wannabe hagba hockers without the ability to much else besides stretching it real wide, 7 or 8 columns even. But they lack the smooth theatric performance that comes with a great hagba.
By the way I witnessed a 9 column hagba in the DAT minyan in Denver today and it was quite impressive.