5774 Musings

Listening: Before we blow the shofar, we make a brucha ... L'shmoah kol shofar --- to listen to the sound of the shofar. The mitzvah is not fulfilled by blowing the shofar. The mitzvah is fulfilled by listening. Sometimes it's hard to remember that what we really need to do is to listen. The days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are known as Yomim Noraim --- the days of awe. It's a contemplative time, where we think about our lives, and we think about how we would like to make improvements. The shofar reminds us to listen -- to listen to our loved ones. Only by listening can we appreciate where we are, what we have, and how we might best proceed. Let's listen.

Help up versus lift up[1]: Tahhanun is a Jewish prostration ritual some (typically leaders) perform around this time of year, and helpers are enlisted to upright the horizontal. Helpers can help up, or they can lift up. Friends are like that: some friends help us up when we're down, and some friends lift us up. We're lucky when we have the former kind of friend, and luckier the latter, as both are difficult tasks.

[1] Standing up: The musing about help up versus lift up is reminiscent of a drash given by MIT Hillel Rabbi Dan Shevitz, c. 5741. HaRav commented that when people stand up from sitting, they sometimes reach out and grab the seat in front of them to pull themselves up, and sometimes they rise unassisted, which takes more balance. Regretfully, I don't remember the interpretation of the observation, but I've written to Rav Shevitz and will add more if he comments.


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