High Holy Days Journey with Amichai Lau-Lavie: 40 ways in 40 days to find your focus
Last night I went to visit, break the Ramadan daily fast, study, sing and pray with Shaykha Fariha Fatima al-Jerrahiand her community at the Sufi Mosque in Tribeca
On the Jewish calendar it was the night of Slichot – prayers of forgiveness, intensified as the New Year approaches. At the Shaykah’s table it was a night of Sulcha – reconciliation and reconnection of the Children of Abraham. There was sweet tea and Turkish delight and a man who sang Rumi in Persian. We talked about Abraham, and how and why he would take his son – either Isaac or Ishmael or both – up the mountain in a fundamentalist movement of faith. We talked about the ram that saved the boys, and the ram’s horn that is used on these days to wake up to faith, trust, inner listening.
We listened to each other, and talked about listening:
The shofar has one small hole on one end, and a wider opening on the other end. It resembles the process of teshuva – self reflection: You start by focusing on yourself, your breath, presence – and widen the focus of your attention as the shofar widens – to include those around you, further out into the whole world. And from the particular – to the universal. A wake up call for the human soul.
Take time to listen, quietly, for a few minutes, to silence.
Here’s the beautiful intention of the dear friend who will be blowing the Shofar again at our higholidays in Downtown NYC. Rabbi David Kline is a scholar, master baker, and expert shofar blower:
A Shofar Blower’s Intention:
The special act of Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the shofar. The emphasis – the purpose of the sacred act is to perfect our listening – listening to this peculiar, haunting sound. The blessing that is reserved for this occasion is all about the act of listening. It is not a blessing for a successful act of making sound or for the success of the shofar blower: “ We bless the Creator who makes us holy by instructing us to hear the sound of the shofar.”
When I make this blessing before blowing the shofar, as I’ve been doing for many years, I feel honored and privileged. With the horn in my hands I feel tremendous responsibility.
Months of rehearsing still don’t allay my terror of spoiling the moment by a weak or worse set of calls. I want, more than anything, for the sound of the shofar to vibrate in souls. And when the sounds are clear and strong, I feel worthy, up to the task, proud of my service, honored by my role.
As the people listen to the shofar, I listen to them. And when the congregation, as one, exhales afterwards, I know I am competent, and I feel our shared prayer, as we each listen to each other breath in and out, as loud and as silent as a shofar.
May we be blessed to deeply listen to each other, always.
Rabbi David Kline.