The chassidic master of the 18 century, the Baal Shem Tov, told a parable about the deeper meaning of the shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah.
A young prince was once exiled from the royal palace of his father, the king. The young boy spent years wandering among the peasants and forgot about his royal roots and aristocratic upbringing. After years of wandering, he finally hit the low point in his life and he sought to return home. By that point his clothes were well-worn and torn, his hair was long, and he outwardly resembled nothing of the prince he was raised to be.
Upon arrival to the palace, the guards, of course, do not recognize him and quickly escort him away from the royal gates. Try as he might to return, his pleas go ignored as they view him as an unhinged fellow seeking access to the palace.
Distraught and hopeless, he sits by a stoop at the castle walls and begins to cry.
The king sitting in his royal chamber hears a faint but familiar voice. He follows his ear and the voice gets louder until he reaches his long lost son. After an emotional embrace he is welcomed back home to the palace.
The Baal Shem Tov related this story in regard to Rosh Hashanah. The prince is the Jewish people and his cry is the shofar’s blast.
Throughout the year we may find our relationship with God slipping or moved to the back burner. We become preoccupied with our work and the various life challenges thrown our way. We become consumed with our daily business and focus less on the preciousness of who we are as a people.
When Jewish people from around the world come together in shul on Rosh Hashanah we share one voice. While we hail from various backgrounds and ways of observance, we are united, joining as one, to fulfill the great mitzvah of the day to hear the shofar blasts.
The shofar’s cry is simple and sweet. It’s soft yet persistent. It represents the cry from the deepest core of our soul, our Godly soul. With this sound we gather as one, asking God for a sweet new year.
The cry of the shofar is like a cry from a child to parent. As parents we often know our children could have done better, could have tried harder, and followed what we told them the first time. Yet when our children come around and ask for our support, we are there for them. We are present and we are ready, regardless of the mistakes they have done.
On Rosh Hashanah we turn to God with that same innocence of a child to parent. We may not be fully deserving, but we are here and committing to good for the coming year. As the prayer says, with repentance, prayer, and righteousness we have the ability to anul any negative decrees.
So, on this Rosh Hashanah, in addition to the traditional dinners we have with family and friends, make a point of taking your children and parents to go to shul and hear the shofar. Make sure you take part in the most important mitzvah this Rosh Hashanah.
Ksiva vachasima tova — may you be inscribed for a good year.