We find ourselves in the month of Elul, the month leading up to our High Holy Days. This month is meant to be a time of reflection, a time of preparation, and a time of Teshuvah, of repentance. What do you do during this month to help yourself prepare for the High Holy Days? Each morning during this month we are supposed to hear the sound of the Shofar, to awaken our souls, to make us aware, perhaps even to frighten us a little bit about the approaching Day of Atonement. Our source for the blowing of the shofar comes from a verse in Leviticus 23 that says: “God spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the Israelite people thus: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts.” This celebration of Rosh Hashanah is observed on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, and begins on the evening of Sunday, September 13th. On that day, we will gather together, we will sing and we will pray, we will atone for our sins, we will hear the familiar melodies that hearken us back to our childhood and beyond, and we will hear the blasts of the shofar. What feelings does the blast of the shofar stir up for you? Are those feelings different year after year?
Maimonides taught the following: “Although the sounding of the shofar on the New Year is a decree of the written law, still it has a deep meaning, as if saying, ‘Awake, awake, o sleeper, from your sleep; o slumberers, arouse yourselves from your slumbers; examine your deeds, return in repentance, remember your Creator.'”
I encourage you to find a way to listen to the sound of the shofar every day during the month of Elul. If you can’t hear it in person click this link to listen to a recording. The link works everyday except on Shabbat. May it awaken your soul to examine your deeds, to return in repentance, and to arrive at Rosh Hashanah ready to begin 5776 anew. May this new year be filled with joy, with light, and with love for you and yours.
Shanah tovah u’metukah!