The Ruckus of Rosh HaShanah

blog shofarAs we get ready for Rosh HaShanah (FYI-it is this Friday night), we get ready to hear the blasts of the Shofar, which is associated with the Jewish New Year. In comparison, we make a lot of noise on Purim to blot out the name of the wicked Haman, but it does not come close to significance of hearing the Shofar on Rosh HaShanah. What is the meaning of all of this noise on the Jewish New Year?

For some of us, it might be a new thing and strange sound. For some it might remind us of growing up and hearing it at synagogue. For some it might remind us of the way we aspire to live our lives. Some might hear the walls of Jericho tumbling or the coronation of the King. For some it might be a blast to the past hearkening back to the ram at the binding of Isaac when Isaac was almost killed by his father Abraham. For some it might be the sound of Sisra’s mother at seeing the death of her child. And yet for others, it might just be an annoyance. I imagine the Shofar blast is supposed to evoke a combination of all of these feelings and more. In my mind the noise is supposed to comfort the uncomfortable and discomfort the comfortable.

Rabbi Israel Salanter, the founder of the Mussar Movement, commented that the loudest sound in the universe was the breaking of a bad habit. If we listen closely to the sound of the Shofar this year we might just hear that we are indeed ( and in deed) in a groove or a rut. While on Purim we were trying to blot out the name of the wicked Haman, on Rosh HaShanah we are trying to blot out the wicked associated with our own names.

Gmar Chatima Tova– May your name be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good. After all of the Rosh HaShanah ruckus, I hope that you have a wonderfully harmonious New Year. For me it will be filled with the sweet sound of our new born daughter Emunah.

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