Adam Stotland

 

Judaism has a fondness for symbols. From wearing a Kippah and Tallit to eating Hallah and Latkes, symbols abound in Jewish life, including during our celebration of Rosh HaShanah. From our liturgical texts to apples and honey, pretty much everything we do or say on Rosh HaShanah is a symbol of the holiday and of the history of the Jewish people. One of the most apparent symbols is the sounding of the Shofar. We sound the Shofar from the beginning of the month of Elul until the end of Yom Kippur and there are numerous reasons for doing so. One such reason is that the Shofar is supposed to spiritually wake us up for the holiday. Another reason is that we crown Hashem king and it is symbolic of the trumpets that would coronate kings of old. A third reason is that the sound of the Shofar represents the crying of the Jewish people, and the list goes on and on.

Being surrounded by symbols gives us a great opportunity. We are each able to interpret our own Judaism and make it relevant to us. Of course this is extremely challenging on many levels. On a personal level it requires some effort. We must educate ourselves to the point that we are able to extract meaning from our rituals. If I don’t know how to put on tefillin, I will never find meaning in it. On a communal level, interpretation often leads to disagreement and inflammatory situations as we’ve recently seen at the Kotel.      

As we approach our High Holyday season, our challenge is to find new meaning in all that we do, whether it is eating round hallahs or praying in synagogue. May this serve as inspiration for our personal and communal prayers.

On behalf of Yahel, Shaya, Yahav and Eden, I’d like to wish you a Shanah Tova.