16th Elul :What does the Almighty expect from us?
What does the Almighty expect from us?
One way or another, each of us asks this question at least once in a lifetime. We keep searching for the answers to this complicated question throughout our lives, and when we speak to the Almighty in response we do not hear his voice, but perceive the answers according to what is happening, it is important for us to know and understand the tools of communication.
In the Torah, Bemidbar (29:1), the Jewish New Year, which this year starts on the evening of September 25, is called the Day of blowing (the shofar). Psalm 99 explains that with the sound of the shofar we praise the Almighty. In the sounds of the shofar some hear the voice of a human, while the Talmud (the treatise “Rosh Hashanah”) interprets in the sounds of shofar as the anxiety of a man and even the cry of a woman.
Different types of blowing the shofar - a long sound (tekiya), intermittent (shwarim), dotted (terua) - are quite symbolic. Machzor "Aspiration of the Soul", printed in Jerusalem in 2003, cites the interpretations of the 15th century rabbi Yitzhak Aran. Tekiya is the symbol of the righteous, the terua – one of the evildoers, and the sound of shwarim is the symbol of those, who are in the intermediate category. Thus, when we blow the shofar not only we produce sounds of different duration and frequency, but also symbolize the concept of righteousness, sin and repentance.
It's no secret that both the rhythm and music itself have a serious and deep meaning. Our heart beats; every second we hear different sounds nearby. And the fact that the shofar sounds in the month of Elul, before Rosh Hashanah, suggests that both the perception of sounds and repentance is the process that requires time and effort.
It took over 80 years to perpetuate the memory of 1200 Jews and 300 Belarusians murdered in Logoysk during Holocaust. The memorial ceremony, with the participation of the Belarusian authorities, representatives of different confession and public associations, was held on August 30th in the month of Elul, the time of repentance and blowing the shofar. At the end of the ceremony, I found myself thinking that if the Almighty knows both the past and the future, he also knows that humans are not always able to come to understanding and action in certain period of time. But the Almighty surely expects us to be ready to ask questions and look for answers, to fix what can be fixed, whether in a certain month or even years later. The sound of the shofar, the sounds of prayer, as well as other sounds and pictures that our brain perceives, are both tradition and environment, experience and inspiration. It is important to continue to ask this complex and at the same time simple question, what God expects from us, and then we will be able to discover a lot of new and useful things in ourselves, bring more colours and meaning, memory and blessings to life.
Grisha Abramovich LBC 2003
Rabbi of the Religious Union for Progressive Judaism in the Republic of Belarus