This year has been especially difficult with a pandemic that has taken fewer lives worldwide than the seasonal flu did last year, but is more of a devastating blow to the world because of how swiftly it can change lives and take lives. One thing it has not done is take the Spirit and Joy from G-d’s people. What it has done is given us focus, and purpose. We find ourselves guided away from the superficial and the incidental, towards focus, towards integration, towards essence.
For many, it has stripped away travel, sport, entertainment, eating out, and doing simple things as cutting hair or going to spa, and in some places even the beach, and most of these activities so often pull us away from G-d and only focus on oneself. It pulls us away from presence and self-knowledge of who we are and what our true purpose is in life. It has pulled us from living life with meaning and dedication to our higher calling. Yom Kippor is the time we get on our knees before the King and Pray for forgiveness and renew our relationship.
Indeed, this pandemic has shut down exactly the interconnected, external world which powered the spread of it across the globe. This has taken humanity in the opposite directions that has either created unity or disunity which now reveals who really serves the Light of Hashem or serves the darkness which is the yetzer hara. There is no grey area anymore it is now clear what is the intentions of people who are around us.
And this is the goal of this month of Elul is seek purpose and let Elul lead us steadily, day by day, towards Rosh Hashanah. It gives us time to introspect, to clarify what we stand for – and to return to our Creator by meeting him personally in the field. So that when we arrive at the grand Coronation of our Holy King G-d we will find ourselves able to reunite with our true essence, both as individuals and as a united people and nation who is truly serving Hashem with all our hearts and souls.Let this Year’s shofar blast take on a whole new meaning.
Blowing the shofar teaches us how to discover our soul. The shofar is nothing more than a hollow shell, yet it transforms a fleeting breath into a powerful victory cry. For the many who suffered losses, trauma, or disappointments, 5780/2020 and for many it will be remembered as a year of deep challenges, struggles, and pain. And for many this year will remembered as one that snapped them out of the trance of daily repetitive living like a sudden hearing of the shofar blast, giving them a chance to learn how to focus on what matters, to form relationships with their families and themselves, a year which taught them how to truly be a sweet aroma unto G-d and also how breathe in Torah and let its sweet Ketoret (spices incense) aroma be our own that only G-d will accept as our offering of Tshuva (return).
On Rosh Hashanah there is a commandment to blow the shofar, a unique mitzvah in that it is fulfilled by using our breath. The shofar blasts mark the birthday of mankind when God “blew” into man’s nostrils his soul, giving him the “breath of life- nishmat chaim” (Genesis, 2:7). Breath is symbolic for the soul, as the two do share a common Hebrew root. The word for soul, “neshama“, is closely identical to the Hebrew word “neshima”, breathe. This is why one can become most aware of the highest part of their soul just by slowing down and focusing on their breathing.
As the pandemic first began to spread, many took note of its name, which means crown, pointing out how this pandemic would wake up the world to realize how dependent we are on the King of Kings to protect us and to keep world order. It tells us that only G-d Almighty the creator of the universe is in control and not those who think they are in control. Jewish tradition and Torah teaches us that the shofar is the very instrument that we use to coronate G-d as King, proclaiming that everything we have is dependent on G-d Who is constantly breathing life and sustaining us with His Divine breath. This is what keeps us in joy, this is what it really means to live. Let this be the year of Light of Life. Crown the Heavenly “Father Our King” (Aveinu Malkeinu) and chose life and His glorious Light!’
May we Merit the Coming of Moshiach Now!
Shana Tova for a Sweet, Healthy and Prosperous New Year 5781
Every time I hear the sound of a baby crying, it sounds to me like the shofar [rams horn blown on High Holidays] that tells us about a better world.~Rabbi Shlomo CarlebachPsalm 37:4 says,
“Take delight in G-d, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”