It’s the last Tuesday in the Jewish month of Elul; time for a TorahTutors Teruah* Tidbit!
(*teruah = shofar sound that starts with a “t”)
A young student and her tutor began reviewing laws and customs of Rosh Hashanah by discussing the symbolic foods they each eat on Rosh Hashana, such as apple and honey for a sweet new year, fish to represent the growth of the Jewish people, and a fish head (perhaps a gummy fish head) to symbolize being ahead in our pursuits rather than at the tail.
Many symbolic Rosh Hashanah foods are chosen based on word plays in Hebrew or Yiddish, and as the student discovered, the Mishna Berurah’s statement (siman 583, s.k. 1) says one can add symbolic foods based on word plays in other languages as well – hence the popular raisins and celery dish eaten in hopes of a raise in salary. The Mishna Berurah further reminds us (s.k. 2) of the importance of engaging in prayer and repentance along with eating the foods, and suggests (s.k. 5) that we strive to maintain a positive frame of mind on Rosh Hashanah as a further symbol of the good things we are working towards in the coming year; “one should be happy in his heart and trust God, with repentance and good deeds.”
Does this positive mood contradict the awe and trembling we are told the sound of the shofar should inspire on Judgment Day (Mishna Berurah 584, s.k. 1)?
The learning session concluded by exploring the complex nature of shofar blowing and the many symbolic reasons that have been attached to it – including not just fear for our personal futures but faith in our national future, when the shofar will signal the coming of Mashiach.
The Book of Our Heritage, by Elihayu Ki Tov, mentions these and other reasons for blowing the shofar. Check it out, and check us out!
A Tuesday TorahTutors Tidbit: Real Torah, from real TorahTutors sessions.