I attended the world's first shofar flash mob yesterday, but almost didn't make it. Congregants showed me articles about the impending shofar flash mob at
I saw a father with his young daughter. He was holding a real shofar and she had one of those plastic ones. They too had missed the
My whole adventure reminded me of a Hasidic story. A rebbe once taught that everything can impart an important life lesson. A hasid asked his master what does a train teach us? The rebbe answered that every second counts for if you miss the train even by a few minutes you have missed your opportunity.
I wonder how many of us are missing the train preparing for the High Holidays so that we attain our spiritual goals of living a meaningful life of integrity for the coming year. Unless we do the soul accounting now, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur will fly by in a twinkling of an eye and we shall be the same people we’ve always been. Every second counts!
I remain hopeful though. I missed my train on Sunday, but I did catch the next one and attended an alternate shofar flash mob. The lesson I took away from my near miss is: Judaism believes in second chances. No matter what you have done up to now, today is a new opportunity, a second chance, to transform your life and become the person you truly want to be.
Dr. Louis Newman concludes his book Repentance: The Meaning & Practice of Teshuva on this hopeful note:
The only question left unanswered is the question that can only be answered in the depths of each person’s heart: how shall I finally find the will to undertake the arduous work of teshuvah and then, because I will inevitably fail, to begin it yet again? The path of repentance will be, by turns, difficult and easy, straightforward and circuitous. But, like all spiritual paths, the most difficult part may be the decision to embark upon the journey in the first place. There is much holding us back – fear, to be sure, but also shame, pride, and hopelessness. In this respect, we may take some comfort from one final text. It is the biblical text that is read in synagogues each year on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah. In one of Moses’s final address to the Israelites, he admonishes them one last time that God will bless them if they observe the law and curse them if they depart from it. He reminds them of the great gift of the Promised Land that they are about to enter and possess. He encourages them to love God and to “return to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul” (Deuteronomy 30:10), a phrase that echoes the theme of the year.
And then, anticipating the reticence of the Israelites to believe that all this is possible and to commit themselves to living by the terms of the covenant, Moses says:
Surely this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.