Have a Blast: Emor 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you have a favorite Jewish holiday? A least favorite Jewish holiday? What qualities in a Jewish holiday determine how much you like or dislike it?

The Torah tells us very little about Rosh Hashanah and how to observe it – but at least we are told about the prominence of the shofar in its proceedings:

The Pitch: “Speak to the Israelite people thus: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts.” – Leviticus 23:24-25

Swing #1: “[Rosh Hashanah] is now an occasion for the Jews not only to commemorate Abraham’s unflinching obedience and God’s merciful intervention on Mount Moriah; it is also an occasion for them to remind God of the implications of that event for Abraham’s unworthy descendants ever after.” – Jon D. Levenson, Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity & Islam

Swing #2: “The reason [why the shofar is mentioned] here is probably a combination of proclamation (as before a king) and driving out demons (who, it should be noted, do not like loud noises).” – Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses

Swing #3: “The purpose of the blowing of the shofar in all parts of the world, regardless of whether we are in exile, is to bring ourselves to favorable consideration by the Creator, who, on that day, decides which of us are going to survive the year about to commence. Moses was instructed about such a concept already when told to make two trumpets for himself in Numbers 10:9.” – Chizkuni

Late-Inning Questions: How do our commentators understand the significance of the shofar? Can we utilize the shofar more in our Jewish practice outside of Rosh Hashanah? Does the sounding of the shofar imply more our worthiness or our shortcomings?

On-Deck at TBT: I’m excited that the Klein Scholar weekend will begin tomorrow, and for the first time in three years, it will be in-person. Join Frederick E. Greenspahn, PhD, for four talks on The Changing Nature of American Jewry throughout the weekend of May 13-15. More details are available on the TBT website.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of noise-makers, I imagine I’m in the minority by saying that a positive aspect of the Los Angeles Angels being good again is the hope that their fans will bring back Thunder Sticks to their home games. Most people found them irritating; I found them endearing.

Shabbat Shalom!