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The Shofar Breaks Your Heart: Shabbat Message by Rabbi Jessica Spitalnic Mates

Shabbat Message by Rabbi Jessica Spitalnic Mates graphic for Temple Beth El of Boca Raton

Last Sunday in religious school, the students and I studied the poem, The Shofar Breaks Your Heart by Dane Kuttler.

The poem is about a little girl who is given the gift of a shofar and desires so deeply to touch, learn about and sound the shofar.

The poem begins…

“When you give a girl a shofar –

no, not a proper instrument of G-d,

but a rough-cut horn with no real mouthpiece

her aunt brings back from a trip to Jerusalem,

don’t make it easy.

Put it up on the shelf in the living room

where its curled promise of a shout

will tempt her until she can reach it on tiptoe.”

As the poem goes on with earnestness, zeal and interest she engages with the shofar til at last, after she gets it to emit the T’kiah, the poem ends…

“When it’s over,

Close your eyes.

Be. Broken. Here.  Before G-d and your people. Be. Cracked.

feel the light

and the words

come in.”

Today is the last day of the Hebrew month of Elul and tonight is Rosh HaShanah.  Whatever is on your mind right now at this moment, just a few hours before 5784 arrives; the shofar breaking your heart is probably not at the top of your list.  But what if it was?

What if the shofar’s call was so meaningful and exciting to you as it was to the girl in the poem?  It is supposed to be.  It is said that when the 10 Commandments were given at Sinai that the shofar was blown the entire time of that giving, so every single soul would hear.  It is said that hearing the shofar is the primary mitzvah of Rosh HaShanah.  It is said that when we hear the shofar sounds, we bring to mind that we are bound to God so dearly, as was the first Jew, Abraham.

That’s a lot to reflect on as 5783 draws to a close.  That’s why Judaism gives us the time of the Hebrew month of Elul, and Rosh HaShanah and the days in between Yom Kippur to let the shofar break our hearts.  Because in breaking our hearts, we let in new light, new perspectives and the new year.

At Temple Beth El over this month of Elul, we have used the Selichot visit of musician Chava Mirel last Saturday to inspire great interest in the power of the Hebrew month of Elul to lead us to repent and reflect and think anew about what we will be in the year ahead.

Shabbat Shalom,

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