Friday, September 18, 2020
Twenty-Ninth Day of Elul 5780
Erev Rosh Hashanah
This is the last day of the month of Elul, the last day to prepare for the Days of Awe. Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset.
Today we consider the third section of the shofar service, the section called Shofarot, meaning “Shofars.” In this section, we hear the shofar as an echo of the shofar that sounded at Mount Sinai during God’s revelation of the Torah and the Ten Commandments. We also hear the shofar as a symbol of hope for the great shofar that announces the redemption of the world.
In the book of Exodus, the day of the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai is described: “On the third day as morning broke, there was thunder and lightening. A dense cloud was upon the mountain and there was the very loud sound of a shofar. All the people in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16).
The sounding of the shofar is our symbol of experiencing God. It announces the moment when we feel God palpably all around us. It also is the moment in which we see ourselves as we truly are. All at once, we know that we are a speck within a universe that is vast beyond our comprehension. At the same time, paradoxically, it is also the moment when we know ourselves to be a part of God, part of that which gives the universe purpose and meaning. With the sound of the shofar we experience deep humility and inexpressible joy all at the same time. We experience the revelation that all is One, and that we are included in it.
Practice for this day:
When in your life have you heard the metaphoric sound of the shofar? What have been your moments of feeling deeply that you are part of something far beyond yourself that gives your life meaning and hope? Was it while experiencing the beauty of the natural world? Was it while being close to the people you love? Was it a moment of deep insight or of personal transformation? Write about your shofar moments. Hold onto those moments in your life to help you find the strength in the task of t’shuvah, the task of returning yourself to the sound of the shofar.