For The Shofar Blows for Thee…

The month of Ellul just began this week, heralding in the period of prayer and repentance culminating in Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur.  It is the custom of Ashkenazim to sound the shofar every weekday morning during this month, and the custom of Sephardim to say special Selichot prayers early every morning.  The central commandment of Rosh Hashanah, and the defining feature of this festival in the Torah is the ...

Read More

Preparing for the High Holidays

We are beginning the month of Ellul this week, which is the month during which we prepare for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.  One of preparation is the addition of certain prayers to our daily service and also the daily sounding of the shofar.  According to Jewish tradition, before G-d created the first human being, a debate took place in the heavenly court. When the Holy One blessed Be He came ...

Read More
Shofar

The Shofar of Defiance

As we blow shofar in synagogue every morning of this month, and anticipate the grand shofar blowing on Rosh HaShanah, I would like to remind people of various times in history when blowing the shofar could not be taken for granted and represented much more than the (albeit wonderful and significant) fulfilment of a legal requirement. Following is the account of Rabbi Moshe Segal who blew the shofar, illegally, at ...

Read More
Shofar

The Shofar

The central commandment of Rosh Hashanah, and the defining feature of this festival in the Torah is the shofar.  The first day of the seventh month shall be a sacred holiday to you when you may not do any mundane work.  It shall be a day of sounding the ram’s horn shofar. A hollowed-out ram’s horn is blown on Rosh Hashanah to produce sounds known as tekiah, shevarim, and truah, a long ...

Read More

Hope and Optimism – Ki Tavo 5775

It is customary to add a Psalm to our prayers during the month preceding Rosh Hashanah.  The Psalm is Chapter 27 and is one of most beautiful prayers in the book of Psalms. “A Psalm of David. The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, my enemies and my adversaries, ...

Read More

The New Moon — A Minor Festival – Shoftim 5775

We just celebrated Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the month of Ellul with special prayers and we began blowing the shofar every day and reciting Psalm 27 as an addition to our prayers. The concepts and lessons contained in the Jewish calendar are so central to our belief that it is necessary to teach and emphasize them regularly.  One of the ways in which Jewish tradition makes us aware ...

Read More