A Solemn Rest

A small Ashkenazi style shofar made from a ram’s horn. Photo: Olve. Wikimedia Commons.

The current Hebrew month is called Elul. The last day of the month begins this evening, Thursday, September 17, 2020. Elul is a month for personal reflection and preparation for the Jewish New Year. Each weekday morning, the Shofar, ram’s horn, is blown after the morning service. This year, I was unable to attend the morning service during Elul. I prayed at home. Still, I was able to hear the shofar each morning. My neighbor and friend, Goldy, blew it. May he and his family enjoy many blessings in the new year.

Tomorrow night, Friday, September 18, the Jewish New Year 5781 will begin. The New Year, Rosh ha-Shanah, is rooted in the Bible.

And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation. Ye shall do no manner of servile work; and ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Lev. 23: 23-25 (JPS, 1917)

Don’t be thrown by “the seventh month.” Judaism has more than one new year, each for a particular reason. In secular terms, think of, for example, a new school year. It doesn’t begin on January 1 but in the Fall of each secular year.

One of my favorite Rosh ha-Shanah customs is eating apples. And one of my favorite ways of eating them is in an apple pie. Here is a picture of the beautiful one my wife has prepared for our holiday.

I’m looking forward to enjoying it.

My hope for every person reading this is that your new year, no matter how you count it, will be one rich in blessings, health, and happiness. May it be the beginning of a bright new future for you.

Words can build up, and, unfortunately, they can also destroy, tear down. In this past year, I shared many stories on this blog. On a personal level, I ask your forgiveness for any words I’ve written here that have hurt or offended you.

All the best,

P.S. If you haven’t heard one, and would like to hear what a shofar sounds like, here is a clip from a Chabad service.

Author: Gershon Ben-Avraham

Gershon Ben-Avraham is an American-Israeli writer. He lives in Beersheba, Israel, on the edge of the Negev Desert. He and his wife share their lives with a gentle blue-merle long-haired collie. Ben-Avraham earned an MA in Philosophy (Aesthetics) from Temple University. His short story, “Yoineh Bodek,” (Image) received “Special Mention” in the Pushcart Prize XLlV: Best of the Small Presses 2020 Edition. Kelsay Books published his chapbook “God’s Memory” in 2021. חב"ד‎

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