Thursday, September 7, 2017

#BlogElul 5777: Awaken

We’re more than halfway through Elul and until last night, I hadn’t yet heard the sound of the shofar. Its daily blasts during the month are supposed to awaken us and serve as a signal to get busy with the annual accounting of our soul that precedes the High Holidays. (When I lived in Los Angeles, where we could reach out the window and touch the building next door, a neighbor’s daily shofar blasts awakened me -- quite literally -- each day during Elul.)

Thank goodness, I’m back in New York, and thank goodness, too, there’s technology that let me watch a recording of a live stream from earlier in the day of cantorial student (and Shaaray Tefila's cantorial intern) Leah Shafritz’s fourth-year practicum. Her work focused on traditional Rosh HaShanah music and I enjoyed not only her beautiful voice and the melodies, but also her commentaries that accompanied each piece.

Toward the end of the practicum, she called for each of the four traditional shofar blasts – te’ki’ah, a long blast with one or two notes; sh’va’rim, three medium blasts, two tones each;te’ru’ah, nine short, staccato blasts; and te’ki’ah g’do’lah, an extra-long single blast – which were fulfilled, one by one, by someone out of range of the video camera. Nonetheless, as they always do, those blasts resonated in my kishkes (intestines), awakening me – even if not literally – to the forthcoming Days of Awe, and to the spiritual work surrounding them.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima , this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precede the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serve as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year.