The Soul Of Rosh HaShanah

On Rosh HaShanah, we read verses of sovereignty, memory and music — the shofar blast. Each is a pastiche of biblical verses that teaches lessons of psychology and soul.

Sovereignty is not only about God but also about us. By emphasizing God’s majesty, the verse reminds us that each human being is frail and foolish, but still loved and unique. And it recalls us to the reality that there are powerful ethical expectations for people in this world. We will fall short, of course, but we are obligated to keep trying.

The verses of memory speak to the fear of being forgotten. God is called “Zochair Kol Hanishkachot,” the One who remembers all things forgotten — including all of us. It reinforces the majesty verses — we are ephemeral but also eternal.

Finally, the verses of the shofar remind us of the rhythms of our lives. This is the punctuation at the end and beginning of the year, recalling everything that has happened and all we dream of for the year to come. The shofar stirs us like military music, to straighten our spine and set us on the path to a better life in the new year.

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.
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