At a class on making this Rosh Hashanah as meaningful as possible, Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld said: “A body decomposes, but a soul composes.”
As a lover of music, this is a beautiful and profound statement. It is also incredibly insightful as to what Rosh Hashanah is really all about. It is our chance to set ourselves up for a most fulfilling and musical year… to make things right, to put ourselves on a better path, a better course… and to let our souls truly sing. It is our moment to orchestrate as much of the New Year as we can, and yet, of course, realize that the ultimate Composer and Conductor is Hashem.
Human beings MUST make music… we MUST compose and let our souls and hearts and yes, our mouths sing. I love the expression “Sing as if no one can hear you.” But I would also add, sing like you don’t care if they can.
Yes, I do have a friend who I tell NOT to sing… Trust me… and you’re welcome… 😉
Though I suppose I should not do that. He should sing if he wants to… or at least I can tell him to just really let loose in the shower. The point is… let us all make music this year.
Speaking of music… I was a bit blown away when Shlomo said that he loved the cover of “The Sounds Of Silence” by the Metal band Disturbed! The song was nominated for a Grammy, and is utterly stunning. It will certainly get into your soul, as great music does. What’s funny is that I JUST discovered this band myself a while back, because of this cover. I am having a bit of a Metal moment in my life… long story… you can read my other blog, Marc’s Muse if you want to get into all of that… but…
I am sure it helps that the lead singer, David Draiman, is a nice Jewish boy whose brother and grandmother live in Israel! And I suppose the other lesson is… don’t judge a book… or Metal singer/album by its cover!
Sticking with the musical theme, we also discussed the power of the Shofar. And yes, I still want one of these beauties…
For more on what the Shofar means and signifies, look to Rabbi Saadia Gaon.
The Shofar awakens something within us. It is musical and soulful… soul filling… and it is also, primal… on so many levels. We can literally feel it resonate in our chest. And like so much of Judaism, HEARING something is so essential. We are not commanded to blow the Shofar, but we are commanded to HEAR IT.
I mentioned to Shlomo that it was interesting to me that we hear the Shofar in Shul BEFORE the actual holiday… as if we need the practice, the preparation, which I guess we do. But sometimes hearing something too much can make you numb to it, which is why there is a break on Shabbat and right before the holiday, but still…
As a kid, my very favorite part of going to services on the High Holy Days was to hear the Shofar. It was one of the few things that kept me in my seat, and not running around the halls and causing trouble with the other boys. Even then, there was something special and unique and important about hearing those sounds.
And the specific notes of the Shofar represent the holiday, as well… Unbroken, then broken and fragmented, and then unbroken again… whole again.
This is the very nature of what Rosh Hashanah is… It starts the Ten Days Of Teshuva… Teshuva being to return… to return to ourselves… to becoming whole again.
In order for us to be whole again, we need to do three things which start on Rosh Hashanah and finish on Yom Kippur.
We need to understand our regrets… regret being things we believe we can do, but did not.
We must change and rise above them.
And THEN we must confess. A confession is only real and powerful if we fully understand what our issues are, and have taken those steps to really embrace and change them.
From my last few posts, it should be clear that we are NOT in control. That while we have Free Will, we must always acknowledge the power of Hashem. But Hashem wants us to sound off… to make music… to make a difference. We are all supposed to be G-d’s Shofar.
I will end on this, since we do also eat a wonderful meal on Rosh Hashanah and that food and this holiday feeds our soul. I love the way this ties in…
Shlomo used an old Cherokee Legend to make this point. It is called Two Wolves. (How amazing and cool is it, by the way, that we are learning Cherokee tales from an Orthodox Rabbi?)
An old Cherokee is teaching his Grandson about life.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he says to the Grandson. “It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves.”
“One is evil – He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.”
He continued. “The other is good – He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
“The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The Grandson thought about it for a minute, and then asked his Grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
L’Shana Tovah! May it be a Good Year AND a Sweet Year for all of us.