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"Come Blow Your Horn!"

09/22/2020 08:16:12 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

One of the reasons we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah (this year only on the second day) is to remind us of the virtues of our ancient ancestors and to lessen the stern judgements against us.  The following parable might help you to better understand this concept.

In his younger days, the King had personally commanded the Royal Military.  Years ago, leading the royal cavalry regiment, he had almost lost his life in a fierce battle against the kingdom’s hostile neighbors to the north.  His troops had been decimated; his horse had been killed; and he was badly wounded in his leg.  With nightfall, an eerie silence hovered over the battlefield with the hoot of an owl and the howl of a wolf temporarily replacing the rattling of sabers and the battle cries of the enemy.  The King managed to crawl to a nearby forest where, wounded and exhausted, he almost lost total consciousness.

The King’s soul was tormented by the deep blackness of the night.  He anticipated nothing but a bitter end believing that if he managed to survive the night, he would be killed by an enemy soldier who found him in the morning.  All seemed hopeless when, suddenly, he was startled by someone touching his shoulder.  He could not see anyone in the darkness, but he distinctly heard the soothing voice of a young foot soldier whispering: “Your Majesty, you are severely injured, but do not worry.  I will carry you to safety.  Be absolutely silent and make no sounds.  The enemy is lurking everywhere.”  This brawny young lad, the son of one of the villagers, carried the King on his back all night long until they reached the front line of friendly forces.  There, the King received the medical attention he so desperately needed, and he was eventually nursed back to health.  In deep gratitude, the King took the valiant young soldier back with him to the Royal Court.  He awarded the lad a medal of honor and placed him in the Royal Military Academy, the kingdom’s most prestigious educational institution and officer’s school.

The young man excelled in his studies and received a commission in the Royal Military.  Rising quickly through the ranks, he incurred the extreme jealousy of his fellow officers, most of whom were sons of noblemen and aristocrats.  This young officer of peasant stock outshined them all.  When he was chosen over the son of a royal minister to become the Commander of the Royal Guard, his fellow officers plotted against this young man whom they referred to with extreme disdain as “the commoner.”  They began to collect an entire dossier of circumstantial evidence against him in an effort to get rid of him one way or the other.  They planted incriminating letters among his possessions and collected false testimony from so-called “witnesses.”  They created virtually airtight accusations of treason and conspiracy to assassinate the King.  After the “evidence” was submitted to the proper authorities, this newly appointed commander of the Royal Guard was thrown into prison to await his day in court.

Dozens of witnesses who gave hours of testimony against him virtually assured the guilty verdict of treason with the sentence of death by a firing squad.  As he awaited his execution, “the commoner” was granted a final wish.  He requested to appear before the King the night before his execution.  In accordance with royal law, his wish was granted.  As he stood before the King, “the commoner” asked for everyone to be silent and for the lights in the royal court to be extinguished.  Then, in the deep blackness, bound in chains and heavily guarded, “the commoner” whispered, “Your Majesty, you are severely injured, but do not worry.  I will carry you to safety.  Be absolutely silent and make no sounds.  The enemy is lurking everywhere.”  Suddenly the King had a flashback to that fateful night on the battlefield when he believed he would never again see the light of day.  He right then and there knew in his heart that this same village lad who had rescued him from certain death could have never conspired against him.

With that, the King ripped up the verdict, freed the accused lad, and restored him to his rightful place of honor as the Commander of the Royal Guard.  He also vowed to unleash his anger on all the evil officers behind the slander and false accusations made against the young man.

Rosh Hashanah is known as “Yom HaDin,” “the Day of Judgement.”  Because we believe that there is a long list of accusations against us in the Heavenly Court (after all, no one is perfect!), we sound the shofar to remind the King of Kings (HaShem) of our virtues much in the same way that the village-born soldier of the story reminded the King of that fateful night on the battlefield when he saved the King’s life.  The sound of the shofar reminds Hashem the we, the People Israel, are the only nation on earth that agreed to receive and abide by the Torah.  As such, we cannot be guilty of only willful transgressions against H-m.

Happy is the nation that hears the call of the shofar.  May all of us merit a wonderful inscription in the Book of a long, happy, and healthy Life!  Ketiva v’Chatima Tova!  Amen!

Thu, April 22 2021 10 Iyyar 5781