I am thrilled to share that the new machzors arrive this afternoon! And I just spent the last hour leafing through the crisp pages. I stopped on the Unetane Tokef, and this line called out to me:
"You will open the Book of Remembrances — it will read itself – and each person's signature is there. And the great shofar will be sounded and a still, thin voice will be heard."
I have never in my life been any good at playing an instrument, although as a young person I attempted guitar, piano, and drums. And as I have shared in the past, it has been a lifelong journey to accept the sound of my own voice. Perhaps one of the most amazing side effects of six years of voice lessons is my surprising ability to blow the shofar. (I am told this is due to my increased control of my diaphragm.)
Having always wanted to play a musical instrument, I find tremendous joy in blowing shofar. Which is why I am particularly excited that it is not just a rite reserved for Rosh Hashanah. It is a tradition to hear the sound of the shofar every day (except Shabbat), starting with the first of Elul. Now for those of us who don't own our own shofar, Reb Ezra just taught me about a nifty app you can download called "Shofar" or I am excited to say that we have put the shofar call on our homepage for you to visit daily.
The passage above from the Unetane Tokef, recited during the additional Mussaf service on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in one breath references both kol shofar, the sound of the shofar, and kol demamah dakah, the still, thin voice.
This suggests to me that while the sound of the shofar is our wake up call, it is meant to not just jostle our senses, but actually direct our attention to an inner listening. Which made me think about our namesake, Kol Tzedek, the voice of justice. Sometimes the voice of justice looks like bullhorns and protest chants, and sometimes it is silent meditation and reflecting listening.
As we deepen our journey into Elul and prepare for the High Holidays, I invite you to take on the practice of listening to the shofar daily. But more so, to listen for the silence that follows. What is the quiet wisdom within you waiting to be heard?
Rabbi Ari Lev
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Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.