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Elul / Rosh Hashanah

It's a Nice Soft Suicide…

By Rabbi Label Lam

During this month of Elul it’s hard to miss the sound of that raspy sounding Shofar. In the past we’ve discussed, “What’s the Shofar saying?” It speaks in Morse code and poetic meter without words. It is a voice, a tone! Now the question is, “What’s the answer to the Shofar’s call- KOL?

If it would be a musical concert perhaps applause would be appropriate, but it’s not! If it would be a “Brocho”-a blessing then we can all respond with a resounding, “Amen!”, but it’s not! Discovering the correct response may help us figure out retroactively what the message of the Shofar might be.

It was pointed out to me recently by a colleague and friend, a very insightful observation. When people offer someone a drink, for example, nowadays, it became fashionable to answer, “I’m good!” I catch myself doing the same thing! He pointed out that the all-time correct response is, “No thank you!” That acknowledges that there is a giver in the act of declining the offer! “I’m good” is only about the receiver!

I hear all too often these days, “Whatever” as the answer or response to everything and anything! “Whatever!” That is the ultimate nullification of the value of everything! Nothing matters! “Whatever!” It’s open “Letzones” –mocking canonized in daily language. The real answer is “Forever!” not “Whatever!” What is our answer to the Shofar’s pleading voice? Is it, “No thank you!” or “I’m good!” or “Whatever!” or “Forever!”?

After the Akeida, we find that Avraham was granted blessings galore, “Because you hearkened to KOLI- My voice!” When HASHEM called he responded, “Hineini- Here I am- I am ready!

Chaim Salenger pungently and poetically describes the urgency of the Shofar’s tone as it reaches out to cure the Jewish soul in the “end of times” when as the Midrash describes, we find ourselves like that ram entangled by our horns in a world of confusion and difficulties!

It's a nice soft suicide
We are grinning as we go.
We've been taken for a ride
But to where we do not know.
Go and find the human heart
The human heart's in exile.
And so we say we're doing fine
Occupied in our own decline
And there we sit in a frozen mood
Shattering in pieces,
Filling up on foreign food
But funny how the hunger never ceases.
Through the vanities of time
And the platitudes of youth
We are wasted in our prime
And we can't afford the truth.
Tangled in the thicket like the horns of
A wayward ram
Listen well, and you'll hear that horn a-blowin'
Calling to the soul of man.

You can build a tower tall.
You can make yourself the king
And though the hand of man is small
He can do most anything
With every strange success we own
We say we're unassisted and though
History moves in a logical flow
We say that we're exempted
And when the physical shell gets thicker
You see the spark inside getting sicker
So we move around a little quicker
Employing every diversion that's invented,
In an artificial light,
Everything appears the same.
There's no wrong and there's no right,
Only thrills to ease the pain
Tangled in the thicket etc. (Refrain)

Float around on a lavender cloud
Thinking nothing serious
When suddenly you're on the ground
In ways that seem mysterious
To modify the crooked lines
To clarify the alibis
And whereupon you realize
That the bridge is rather narrow and precarious,
It's a nice soft suicide...

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and



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