In the emptiness and silence of the desert, an authentic inner voice can be heard while sitting in the sukkah, a hut that existentially gives protection, but in no way physically shields. This can only be experienced by a people of the wilderness; a people who are not rooted in a substance of physical limitations and borders; a people who are not entirely fixed by an earthly point, even while living in a homeland.
Thoughts to Ponder
Rabbi Cardozo's weekly insights into Jewish life.
Yom Kippur leads us to realize life itself is a gift and that gifts confer obligations. The more we receive, the more we become obligated to respond adequately.
The blowing of the shofar proves that we can surpass ourselves. On our own, using only our vocal cords, we are unable to produce this sound—a terrifying, awesome, penetrating resonance. This is a sound that can cause us to break down, pick ourselves up again, and transform ourselves into new individuals.
To be an arbiter of Jewish law is to be the conductor of an orchestra. It is not coercion but persuasion that makes it possible for the other to hear the beauty of the music and to accept a halachic decision, just as one would willingly listen to the interpretation of a conductor—because one is deeply inspired.
Music raises the spoken word to a level that touches on prophecy. It gives it a taste of that which is beyond, and transforms it into something untouchable. Just as there is no way to demonstrate the beauty of music to a person who is completely deaf, so is there no way to explain the difference between a spoken word and one which is sung, unless one sings. It lifts a person out of the mundane and gives him a feeling of the imponderable, which is the entrance to joy. It sets the soul in operation and brings us near to the Infinite.