Shofarot and Jiminy Cricket

Posted on September 8, 2021

By Hazzan Barbara Barnett

Each morning for the past month, during Elul, the morning service was punctuated by the blasts of the shofar. Tekia: “Heads up!” Shevarim: “Get Ready!” Teruah: “It’s coming!” “Look inward,” the calls implored, inching me toward this week and the start of the High Holy Days, the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe).

By the time you read this Rosh Hashanah will have concluded, and we will be in the “Aseret Y’mei Teshuvah,” the ten days of teshuva, the time during which we search even further inside our souls and take account, make amends, to return to who we really are deep inside, and get us back on the path to our best selves. And as Yom Kippur approaches, we begin to make a pact within our hearts, with each other, and with G-d, to be better this year.

We will not hear the long, harsh blast of the shofar sound again until the gates metaphorically close on these days of Awe, bringing to an end the Yom Kippur Neilah service.

As it says in the Unetaneh Tokef prayer of High Holiday Musaf, “U’va Shofar Gadol Yitakah” – the great Shofar sounds, but as we move further and further from its blasts, it’s easy to get distracted, pulled away from our paths, forget, even with the best of intention, our promises made to ourselves and G-d during this season. But the text continues: “v’kol d’mamadaka yishamah” –the still, small voice is heard. It is that still, small voice resonating on and on—I like to think of this sustained echo of the shofar as our own personal Jiminy Cricket to help carry us through the challenges of the year to come.

Phillip and I wish for you a 5782 of health, safety, sweetness and shalom—peace and wholeness.