Sharona Margolin Halickman

Rosh HaShana as an escape room

Escape rooms — they are the rage and can be found all over the world including Jerusalem. The way that it works is that a group of people are locked in a room for an hour and in order to get out, they need to solve different tasks within the room including finding keys and clues which help to open combination locks until they ultimately find the right key to unlock the door to the room. Some participants are successful and are able to get out before the hour is up. Others are not able to get out in time and the door has to be unlocked for them.

There is a story told in Or Yesharim about the Baal Shem Tov who was preparing to blow the shofar on Rosh HaShana. He asked Rav Zev Kitzes, who would be calling out the shofar notes, to study the secret spiritual meanings of the shofar blasts. Rav Zev studied and wrote everything down on a piece of paper so that he could refer to his notes when necessary. However, when it was time to blow the shofar, Rav Zev noticed that he lost the paper and couldn’t remember any of the hidden meanings. Crying and broken hearted, Rav Zev called out the shofar blasts without any special thoughts in mind. After the shofar blowing, the Baal Shem Tov said, “In a king’s palace there are hundreds of rooms and on the door of each room is a different lock that requires a special key to open it. But there is a master key, an axe, which can open all of the locks.”

“So it is with the shofar. There are many gates in Heaven and many rooms within each gate. The different sounds of the shofar and their secret meanings are the keys to open each one of those gates. But there is a master key that can open them all. That is a broken heart. When a person sincerely breaks their heart before God, their prayers can enter through all of the gates and into all of the rooms of the celestial palace of God.”

According to Onkelos, if you listen carefully, the shofar’s Truah note sounds like a cry and this teaches us that it is good to express our feelings and cry the way that the shofar does, exposing our broken hearts and showing that we are sincere in our prayers.

This year, may we be blessed to approach our relationship with God as an escape room, whose keys will help us mend our broken hearts.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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