Thursday, October 06, 2016

G-d “hears the sound of His People Israel’s shofar blowing with mercy.”

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Rosh Hashanah has the aspect of being the start of the entire year. As Rabbi Shneur Zalmen of Liadi explained, just as a person has a head and a brain that influence and sustain the entire body, so is Rosh Hashanah a sort of brain for the year, influencing the entire year. And just as one’s head, brain and heart have to be pure and righteous, so must we on Rosh Hashanah purify ourselves by way of repentance and good deeds, good thoughts and good speech. Through this, we influence the entire year, making it good and sweet. Especially important is the mitzvah of hearing the Shofar (whose very name recalls “improvement” [shipur]). The Shofar hints and teaches us how we must relate properly and constructively to the Day of Judgment and to Strict Judgment. 

And how is that? The shofar blasts fall into three categories, alluding to divine kindness, strict judgment and mercy. The first blast, the teki’ah, alludes to kindness. It is a simple sound, and where kindness exists, all is simple. In the middle comes the teruah, consisting of broken blasts, the sound of loud sobbing, and sighing, weeping and wailing. These allude to strict judgment and to life’s hardships. In the end comes another tekiah, a simple blast alluding to mercy and love. We hear how the blasts are joined together until one can hear the kindness within strict judgment, the light within the darkness, the sweet within the bitter. We get a sense of how G-d really is “good to all, with His mercy governing all His works” (Psalm 145:9). Pondering and listening to the sweet, remarkable shofar blasts arouses and strengthens within us the belief that despite everything, when all is said and done, “One higher than the high is watching over us” (Ecclesiastes 5:7), and there is no one else but Him. The L-rd G-d of Israel is King, and His monarchy rules over all. By such means, a Jew purifies his mind and heart on Rosh Hashanah, and this day shines upon the entire year. 

Today, let the old year and its curses end, and let the new year and its blessings begin. This year has been hard and painful for the Jewish People. The sound of the “teruah”, the sound of weeping and sighing, the pain and suffering, doubts and worries were the lot of many Jews, who felt the enormity of the pain. On Rosh Hashanah, we have to arouse ourselves and grow stronger through the shofar blasts. We have to hear the teki’ot preceding and following the teruah. We have to recognize that G-d, who hears our prayers, mercifully hears the sound of the teruah, as we note in the Rosh Hashanah Shemoneh Esreh: “Blessed be G-d… who hears the sound of the teruah of His people Israel, with mercy.”

With blessings for a good, sweet year.
G'mar Chatima Tova,
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

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