Ever since I was a child, I loved to press the snooze button on my alarm clock. Some would prefer to sleep in and not have their alarm go off at all. I, on the other hand, enjoy having my alarm go off. Every time it goes off, and every additional time I press the snooze button is a reminder of the five extra minutes that I get to sleep in. To this day, I’ll set my alarm clock for a half hour before I intend to wake up in the morning, just so I can spend a considerable amount of time pressing the snooze button. While I enjoy this morning routine, my wife surely doesn’t appreciate it!
As we celebrated Rosh Chodesh this past week and began the month of Elul, we also began the period of time called the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe and Reflection, leading up to the High Holy Days. Every morning and every evening during the Yamim Noraim we recite the words of Psalm 27. We conclude this Psalm with phrase, kaveh El Adonai, hazak v’ametz libecha, kaveh El Adonai, Hope in God, be strong, let your heart take courage, and hope in God.
In addition to saying this Psalm for the season, we blow the shofar every morning. We traditionally connect the blowing of the shofar with the blasts of Rosh Hashanah, yet we spend the entire month of Elul (with the exception of Shabbat) blowing the Shofar. With that first Shofar blast, the alarm goes off. We may (as I love to do every morning) press the snooze button, but the blasts of the ram horn continue to be heard morning after morning. We can continue to snooze, ignore the wake up call, and then feel rushed and unprepared as Rosh Hashanah approaches — or we can wake up!
We can spiritually wake up! Let the blasts of the shofar awaken the depths of our souls. May the shofar blasts shatter our complacency and allow us to say Hineni, Here I Am! May we take advantage of this wake up call, of this season of repentance and self-reflection, so that we strive to be better people — and strive to make this world a better place — in the year ahead.
– Rabbi Jesse Olitzky