As we approach the Chaggim, I again find myself being increasingly reflective about the past, present, and future. There is much heaviness and unknowns in our world right now, yet, Rosh Hashanah brings with it a sense of newness. We are each surrounded by inspiration — it is our task and obligation as Jews to take notice of it. I am invigorated about embarking on a new year and a new school year with renewed energy and positivity. Let us take note of the inspiration of the day, breathe in the aromatic smells of the special seudah/meal, absorb the sounds in shul, and soak in the beauty and meaning of this day. Let us lean into that optimism and hope!
With these inspirations secured in our minds, we can use the mitzvot and customs of Rosh Hashanah as a conduit to bring us back to the time when our optimism and our hopes were at their peak. The Satmar Rav wrote that the purpose of the Chaggim is to allow us to experience G-d and feel inspired so that we will have a goal to strive for during the remainder of the year.
It is not only about our own growth. We can harness this energy and inspiration beyond the initial moment of hope we feel in shul. With the help of G-d, we will be able to extend this energy to our families throughout Rosh Hashanah and into the year with our words and actions.
G-d tells Isaiah, “Raise your voice like a shofar” (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 58:2).
Did you know that there is a minimum size for a shofar? It must be at least four finger-widths so the shofar is visible on either side of one’s hand. The noise alone is not sufficient; the importance of the hand and its interaction with the shofar is also meaningful. In other words, it is not necessary to use increased volume to get your words across to others. Instead, I offer that we use our choice of words and our actions to be powerful, inspiring, motivating, and uplifting to those around us.
Rabbi Ari Leubitz is the head of school at the only ECD-12th grade Jewish school in Atlanta, the Atlanta Jewish Academy.