The blowing of the shofar proves that we can surpass ourselves. On our own, using our vocal cords, we are unable to produce this sound – a terrifying penetrating resonance. Alone, we cannot produce a sound that comes close to the piercing and penetrating heavenly voice of the shofar, which can cause human beings to break down, pick themselves up again, and transform into new individuals.
It is Divine humor that tells us to live with absurdity, and supreme holy witticism that asks us to live with laughter. We are asked to enjoy the journey and realize that there is no arrival.
Why is it, asks the Talmud, that children of the Sages rarely became talmudic scholars and pious Jews? Should it not have been they, more than anyone, who walked in the footsteps of their parents, reaching even greater heights in learning and genuine observance? How could it be that their parents, the Sages, did not provide them with the tools to do so? The answer has important implications for all of us.
Every ordinary act should be turned into a kind of mitzvah, a spiritual challenge, making it a dignified encounter with God. On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur we are reminded that our deeds must redeem God’s presence and rescue Him from oblivion. In doing the finite we must be able to perceive the infinite.
“On Rosh Hashana all those who came to the world pass in front of Him like a flock of sheep.”
As we approach Rosh Hashana and ask ourselves what we should do to become better Jews – not just as individuals but also as a community – we must realize that we need to change our attitudes and not just our deeds.
This article will be printed Erev Rosh Hashana in the Hebrew weekly, Makor Rishon Rosh Hashana is a day to contemplate the need for great Jewish Ideas. A day to think big. To get out of our compartmentalized boxes. Hayom Harat Olam: Today the world is born. On Rosh Hashana the world should be newly […]
By Yael Unterman Member of the David Cardozo Academy Think Tank and Halachic Lab I open this essay with a hypothesis that, frankly, I find repulsive: The central lesson of Rosh Hashanah is that truth is overrated. As a person highly committed to truth, I loathe this statement. Yet, paradoxically, I state the above precisely […]
God has many ways to create an uproar in our souls. He can show us a moment in the life of a person who seems to live in complete tranquility, sometimes using the most unusual people to convey an important message. In the famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam there is a portrait by Rembrandt’s most celebrated […]
As we approach Rosh Hashana and ask ourselves what we should do to become better Jews – not just as individuals but also as a community – we must realize the need to change our attitudes, not only our deeds. This demands nothing less than ideological repentance