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Elul Reflection: 24 Elul 5778

4 September 2018
24 Elul 5778

What Kind of a Day Is Rosh HaShanah?

The sounding of the shofar, the most distinctive act associated with Rosh HaShanah, has a dual nature in the Tanach (Hebrew Bible). On one hand, it is a call to battle and a cry of warning. The prophet Zephaniah speaks of “a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress . . . a day of shofar and t’ruah” (1:15–16). On the other hand, the shofar conveys joy and triumph, as when it is sounded to anoint a new king (I Kings 1:34) or praise God in worship, as in Psalm 98:6: “With trumpets and the sound of the shofar, make a joyful shout before our sovereign God!”

The dual meaning of the shofar is appropriate to a day that is both solemn and festive in mood. We feel sorrow and regret as we confront our failings, countered by relief and joy as we celebrate our ability to begin again.

- Rabbi Janet Marder and Rabbi Sheldon Marder

Supplementary reading from our new machzor Miskhan T'shuvah, which will be introduced in 2019

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