September 20, 2017
There is a Chasidic tale about a rabbi and his disciples who were stuck aboard ship just prior to Rosh Hashanah. There was no land in sight and a huge storm blew in. The danger and fear were becoming overwhelming for all of the passengers of the ship. When the rabbi’s disciples realized the grave danger they were in, they decided to blow the shofar in the rabbi’s study as an attempt to fulfill the holy commandment of Rosh Hashanah. Within minutes of the shofar service commencing, the storm began to weaken and by the end of the great tekiah gedolah, the sea was as a calm as a lake.
The other passengers of the boat came to the rabbi and asked to purchase the seemingly magical horn. The rabbi explained it was not magic, but a ram’s horn that was used to fulfil the commandment of hearing the shofar. He explained that perhaps the storm had settled as the sound of the shofar was so much more powerful. He further added that the purpose of the shofar was to stir a storm of emotion in the soul, prompting an evaluation of life and a commitment to living the best one could. He encouraged each individual to live true to one’s values, not only in times of danger but in times of safety as well.
This story seems fitting on this Rosh Hashanah as the past month has seen many communities in the world devastated by terrible storms. The winds and rains have been mighty and powerful and have acted as a reminder to so many of the power of the universe to stop life in its tracks. Yet out of the devastating waters have come stories of humanity and courage, and of communities banding together for safety and now rebuilding.
As we enter into this season of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and we have the opportunity to hear the shofar at school, in our communities, synagogues and perhaps in our homes, I hope each one of us experiences a stirring of the soul. May each of us look ahead to the new year with hope and a resolution to live true to our individual values.
At Paul Penna DJDS, the school year has begun with a positive energy and truly in the spirit of living our core school values. The daily blending of Judaic studies and Core studies is clear, the integration of arts into daily learning is abundant and the use of our community parks and museums has begun. As you speak to your children, ask them questions about what they are learning and doing, and stay tuned for class information about field trips and local outings.
My family and I wish each of you shana tova u’metukah and, looking ahead, a meaningful fast for Yom Kippur.