a different side of Israel

Tag: Shofar


According to the Mishnah, or the Oral Torah:

There are four New Years: on the first of Nisan the New Year for kings and for festivals; on the first of Elul the New Year for the tithe of animals. Rabbi Eleazar and Rabbi Shimon say, on the first of Tishrei: on the first of Tishrei the New Year for years and for the shemittin and for the Yovalot, for the planting and for the vegetables; on the first of Shevat the New Year for the tree, according to Bet Shammai. Bet Hillel says, on the fifteenth thereof.

ShofarWell Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Tishrei, the New Year for years is what I would like to talk about today.

This is not just a time to rejoice and give Rosh Hashanah Gifts, it is also a time to look around us and see the renewal of the world, humanity, nature, the body, the soul.

Rosh HaShanah is the anniversary of the Creation of the Universe.

One symbol of this Holiest of all days is the Shofar, which is really a trumpet made from the horn of ram.

In synagogue on Rosh Hashanah it is blown to the following pattern:

Tekiah – one long and straight blast
Shevarim – three medium, blasts
Teruah – nine staccato blasts in

According to Rabbi Shraga Simmons:

In Jewish tradition, a king is first and foremost a servant of the people. His only concern is that the people live in happiness and harmony. His decrees and laws are only for the good of the people, not for himself. (see Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6)
The object of Rosh Hashana is to crown God as our King. Tekiah — the long, straight shofar blast — is the sound of the King’s coronation. In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s first act was to proclaim God as King. And now, the shofar proclaims to ourselves and to the world: God is our King. We set our values straight and return to the reality of God as the One Who runs the world… guiding history, moving mountains, and caring for each and every human being individually and personally.


When we think about the year gone by, we know deep down that we’ve failed to live up to our full potential. In the coming year, we yearn not to waste that opportunity ever again. The Kabbalists say that Shevarim — three medium, wailing blasts — is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart — yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve.


On Rosh Hashana, we need to wake up and be honest and objective about our lives: Who we are, where we’ve been, and which direction we’re headed. The Teruah sound — 9 quick blasts in short succession — resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness, and focus.
The Talmud says:

“When there’s judgement from below, there’s no need for judgement from above.”

What this means is that if we take the time to construct a sincere, realistic model of how we’ve fallen short in the past, and what we expect to change in the future, then God doesn’t need to “wake us up” to what we already know.

shana tova, happy and sweet new year

Kabbalists Trumpet Swine Flu to Death

Good news! A whole group of famous Kabbalist Rabbis have decided to do away with swine flu and protect Israel. Have they decided to be an example to others by condemning the attack on Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s car? Or perhaps call for mutual understanding in the case of the Safra Square parking lot instead of rioting and burning garbage and attacking sanitation workers? No, no.

TrumpetsTheir solution: Fly around the country while tooting trumpets and shofars, in order to envelope the Holyland in a virus-tight hermetically sealed spiritual shield. No, we are not joking. But we are laughing, and inside, crying softly over the deterioration of Judaism into an irrelevant voodoo joke.

While interviewed, the Rabbis had a bit of trouble saying the word “swine,” which, for some reason unknown to us here, is a bad word. Instead, they called it “the plague” and “the Mexican flu.” This is probably because swine is not kosher. Yet the thought occurs, what if the Bible had refrained from using the word swine itself, and instead forbidden the eating of Mexicans?

Also, we wonder what would have happened if, heaven forbid, the plane had crashed with all the top-rated Kabbalists on it? My mother always told me never to put all your Kabbalists in one basket, or plane, as the case may be. Who would be the spiritual leaders then? Perhaps saner Rabbis who have a moral message that is relevant to our lives.

And what did they ever do before airplanes when enveloping an entire country in a spiritual trumpet-induced shield was impossible? Perhaps they actually provided a leading voice of understanding, morality, and good will that people could listen to and take seriously. But now, I guess it’s all techno-trumpeting.

We hope it works out. But something tells us it’s a waste of good trumpets.

Love Cards from Washington

The Taglit organization (Birthright Israel) has done the unbelievable, and managed to bring together this season’s bitter adversaries.

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