All the things with which I was so familiar took on new and frightening identities when it was dark. The hooks that held my clothes became scary monsters. The ticking of the clock became a bomb. The creaks and groans of our home were ominous and my closet doors appeared as large mouths waiting to devour me.
I wish I could say we adults have completely outgrown such nighttime imaginations. Unfortunately, I cannot. No, I am not referring to the shadows of my tall pencil cactus with its threatening tentacles, or to the creepy echoes of Pip’s snores and growls. In fact, I am not referring to the images that appear in the dark to my sleep-addled mind.
We seem to have taken these hauntings of the dark and expanded them. We often allow our imagination to take small problems and turn them into terrifying monsters. We hear an insignificant slight, perhaps unintended, and we transform them into noises far more chilling than anything we invent about the nighttime groaning of the wind. A failure of no consequence grows into a sense of inadequacy. It is almost as if we allow our minds, even when awake, to see the world as we did as small children lost in the dark.
Perhaps this is part of Maimonides’ description of the Shofar as a cry: “Awake you sleepers from your slumber!” The Shofar wakes us from such dark sleeps and reminds us to see the light that is everywhere, even in challenges, a verbal slight or a failure. We cannot hide under our beds. We must step into life with courage, joy and light.
There are monstrous challenges in life. The Shofar is our weapon to confront and defeat them. Other people often slight us. The Shofar drowns out the noise of their painful words. We slip and fail at things large and small. The Shofar lifts us back up so we can move ahead and overcome any and all failures.
The Foundation Stone™ and The Foundation Stone™ Blog have a wealth of joyful articles, tools and ideas to help us prepare for Rosh Hashana: everything fromTallit Tugging to Time Machines, from Collection Buckets to Inconsistencies, and from Future Oriented to Reb Shlomo Carlebach.
We also have our regular columns: The 7th Haftarah of Consolation, Table Talk-The Thirteen Attributes of Compassion, Rabbi Zweig’s The Profundities of Torah, Rabbi Goldberger’s The Voice of Torah, El Ad’s Na’aseh V’Nishma – Kos Shel Beracha, Rabbi Y.S. Weinberg’s The Torah Connection, (the best yet, filled with practical suggestions to enhance our prayers), Rabbi Brazil’s From The Rebbe’s Tish, and Bentzion Meltzer’s Stories of the Baal Shem Tov and Keter Shem Tov.
So, please join us, and, please turn on the lights!
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg