“A day of sounding the shofar!”

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“Rosh HaShana 5781 – “A day of sounding the shofar!” ((Numbers 29:1) Elul 29, 5780/September 18, 2020 “And in the seventh month, on the first day, there shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall not perform any mundane work. It shall be a day of sounding the shofar for you. You shall offer up a burnt offering for a spirit of satisfaction to HaShem: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in the first year, all unblemished. And their meal offering shall be fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths for the bull and two tenths for the ram. And one tenth for each lamb, for the seven lambs. And one young male goat as a sin offering, to atone for you. This is besides the burnt offering of the new month and its meal offering, and the continual burnt offering and its meal offering, and their libations as prescribed for them, as a spirit of satisfaction, a fire offering to HaShem.” (Numbers 29:1-6) Our sages teach us that Rosh Hashana marks the sixth day of creation, the day that Adam HaRishon – the first man – was created. The place of our creation, the Garden of Eden, is the very place of the Holy Temple, known as Mount Moriah – the Temple Mount. It was on this very spot that Adam first turned from G-d, and first returned to G-d in repentance. Here he built an altar and presented an offering. Some twenty generations later it was here that the angel of HaShem stayed the hand of Avraham at the binding of Yitzchak. It was here that the ram appeared, providing Avraham with the means through which to express his love for G-d. Contained in our prayers on Rosh HaShana are three major themes: G-d’s sovereignty over all creation, our remembrance and recognition of G-d’s constant presence in our world throughout all the generations beginning with Adam, and a recollection of the role of the shofar in our relationship with G-d and in our ability to fulfill our G-d assigned purpose in creation. This day on which “all beings pass before Him like tender sheep,” Rosh Hashana’s message is truly universal: it is incumbent upon all mankind to accept upon ourselves G-d’s sovereignty, and to take account of our thoughts and actions, in light of this awesome recognition. But at a certain point the words of our prayers, having played their part, come to an end, and our hearts grow silent. This is the moment of the sounding of the shofar. Our words can only express so much. This is when the blast of the shofar, which enters through our ears and agitates every molecule of our bodies, and penetrates into the deepest recesses of our souls, cries out to G-d in wordless prayer, “We are – because you, G-d, King and Sovereign over all creation, created us and breathed into us the breath of life.” This is the truth expressed in the words of the psalmist, “From the straits I called G-d; HaShem answered me with a vast expanse.” (Psalms 118:5) We call out to G-d via the shofar, blowing our breath, our very life, through the narrow end of the shofar, and HaShem’s reaffirming confirmation of love emanates from the wide bell of the shofar, returning our breath, our very life, via the resonating sound of the shofar. The trumpets that are sounded before the entrance to the Kodesh – the Sanctuary – of the Holy Temple on Rosh Hashana are reminders of G-d’s dominion. The sound of the shofar – likewise blown on the Sanctuary steps, which emanates from breath itself, the breath that comes from deep within us, where it was placed, for the first time, by G-d, in Adam, on the sixth day, is a reminder of our humanity, and the awesome responsibility contained therein. The outgoing Hebrew year of 5780 has been a year of many dizzying heights and cataclysmic lows. Here in the land of Israel we received blessed rains which filled our rivers and aquifers and raised the level of the Sea of Galilee to a height not witnessed in decades. We have recently made peace with two Arab Gulf states, with the hope that this peace will be a true peace of reconciliation between the children of Avraham our father. But Israel, like the rest of humanity, has been struck this year by the merciless plague of Corona, which has spread death and wreaked havoc in its wake. Now we are welcoming in a new year, 5781, a year in which we will strive to build upon the blessings and drive away the cursed plagues and social chaos. If we but stay true to our love of G-d and His covenant with us, we can do it. G-d has faith in us! The Temple Institute extends our wishes to all our friends, followers and faithful supporters, to the entire nation of Israel, to all who attach their fate to the nation of Israel and their destiny to the G-d of Israel, for a year of health, happiness, achievement and fulfillment, of love, brotherhood and peace. To a year of listening to and hearing one another, ourselves, and the life-changing blast of the shofar rippling through our very beings,a wake up call, a kiss from HaShem. Shana Tova – a very good year to all!

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