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A Sound Reason

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


Library » Holidays » Rosh Hashanah » Essays | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Rabbi Wolf Kitzes was a disciple and follower of the Baal Shem Tov. He was also the person assigned to sound the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah.
It so happened that before Rosh Hashanah one year, the Baal Shem Tov instructed him to learn all the kabalistic meanings behind the blowing of the shofar. He did.
When it came time to blow the shofar, however, he realized he had lost all his notes. His mind went blank. His eyes filled with tears. And it was with a broken heart and empty mind that he ‘simply’ blew the shofar that year.
The Baal Shem Tov assured him that was the best shofar blowing he could have ever hoped for. Every Kabbalistic thought, explained the Baal Shem Tov, is a key to one heavenly gate. A sincere and broken heart is the master key which takes you through all gates

* * *

It is a symbol, a statement, a tradition and a law. It brings back memories and rekindles hearts. It is a call to the Creator on high and an inspiration for souls who feel low. It is the sounding of the shofar.

It is undisputedly the keynote event of the day. Buy why? What is its significance?

In his book of Jewish law, Maimonides references two verses in the Torah as sources for this Mitzvah. The first dictates that it is a heavenly decree. The second indicates that its cry awakens the heart to return to G-d.

The world is clueless! The world can hardly be called a world. The world lacks a sense of appreciation. Its Creator lacks recognition
True we now have an answer for the origins of this custom; we might, however, have one answer too many. The two reasons seem to contradict each other. Reason number one seems to say there is no reason. It is merely a heavenly decree, which implies that there is no understandable explanation to this action. Conversely, the second reason seems to offer a very logical motive for the blowing of the shofar; it is a call for self-examination and renewal.

To better understand the calling of the shofar which epitomizes this day, let us understand the day itself.

On this day we celebrate the beginning of creation. It is not only a commemorative symbol of the past, but rather on this day each year the world and everything in it is given new life by its annually anointed king, the Creator of the universe.

Hold it. Forget about the day’s traditions, what about its validity? A closer look at the beginning of time will reveal that the world’s birthday is actually six days before Rosh Hashanah. The first day of creation took place on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul, while Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the first day of the month of Tishrei.

This question is about as old as the world itself. The Chassidic masters explain it thus: The reason why G-d created the world is for Him to have a home. Who makes that home? Man. All of the prior creations were merely a prerequisite for the life of man.
To put it quite simply, picture the world at the beginning of time: the sun shines brilliantly on the freshly produced world. Streams pour down the mountainsides, rivers flow across the plains into oceans. Tall and handsome trees line the landscape; bushes and flowers fill the gardens. The orchards are brimming with fresh fruit; the vineyards are draped with luscious grapes. Cattle pasture freely in the meadows and birds soar unreservedly across the blue skies. The world is running at its pace. No global warming; no environmentalist warnings. The world is peaceful.

The world is clueless! The world can hardly be called a world. The world lacks a sense of appreciation. Its Creator lacks recognition. Who created all this, how did it all get here? Is there anyone or anything that comprehends what just happened? Enter man, Adam, the first creation with intellectual capacities. He looks around, he understands, he appreciates; he is amazed. He lifts his eyes to the sky; he extends his heart to his Creator, he says thank You.


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Philosophy » Creation
G-d » Creation

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
The seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which arrives in early autumn, has more holidays than any other month: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
Moses son of Maimon, born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
The horn of a Kosher animal. The Shofar is sounded on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and is intended to awaken us to repentance. Also blown to signify the conclusion of the Yom Kippur holiday.
(adj.) Pertaining to Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.
Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), Polish mystic and founder of the Chassidic movement.
The 6th month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to August-September. This is the month which precedes Tishrei, the month of the High Holidays, and is a month of introspection and repentance.
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.