September 22, 2021, Maaleh Adumim, Israel
We have just concluded the Days of Awe and now we enter the festival of Sukkoth, or the The Feast of Tabernacles in English. This is the "light" and happy period after the days of deep self-reflection. For those who understand the religion and take it seriously these are heavy days indeed. To those who think religion is just some old idiots who lacked an understanding of the world, well, it is just a few days off and sadly nothing more.
The Days of Awe, we listen to the ancient blowing of the Rams' horn, the Shofar in Hebrew. There are different notes, different sequences and it sounds like a cry for help. The idea is to wake us up, to remember the Covenant of Abraham, the traumatic experience of Abraham and Isaac, father and son, to remember and...to feel. I hear the eerie sound of the shofar, blown by the most pious of the congregation and I shiver...it takes us back 4,000 years.
I hear the sound of the Ram's horn and I hear the crying, the suffering. I hear the Jews of Spain being tortured, being burnt at the stake, I hear the cries of mothers whose children were torn away from them.
I feel the pain.
I hear the cries of a hungry boy in the Warsaw Ghetto, I hear the silent cries of a father trying to find his only daughter left to the care of neighbors during the years of Fire and Hate. I hear the cries of the lost and abandoned, the cries of those who will never come home. I hear...and I feel...
and this pain is a blessing because without it I would be one of those masses who forgets, who allows the pain of others to be forgotten.
I do not forget, I remember. A fire burns within me.
And soon our Krav Maga class begins and I take all this pain to find a way to prevent more pain, to allow the average person to defend themselves, to make it easier to live with dignity.
The Rams' horn, the sound that connects us with our past, the sound that awakens us to feel, to hear, to listen, to the cries of others, the loud and the silent. Awaken our souls, awaken our hearts.
Tonight we will review old techniques so that everyone will know them, know them well enough to use them when needed.
The Rams' horn sounds like every form of crying; loud and powerful, soft, short bursts, longer shouts, human and animal connected, all life connected. The Jew carried his Shofar, his rams' horn to all the lands of his forced dispersion, and in each land he suffered a cruel fate, tear stained pages cannot capture the suffering, but the Ram's horn, the shofar, carries these tears from ages past and lands far away. All the crying is combined into one experience, and we stand solemnly in the synagogue and we listen, we open our hearts. The ancient faith, that stood that test of time, the trials and tribulations of every age. I stand in awe of my ancestors who were willing to lose everything but not give up their faith, I hear their cries from centuries ago, I hear them and I become one with them.
The cry of the shofar, the ram's horn, the ancient ritual, awakens us and reminds us what we need to do. It is time to wake up!
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