Most children look forward to Chanukah and Passover, holy days with tangible rituals.
I looked forward to S’lichot, the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashana, the service that introduces the High Holy Day season through prayer and music. The ancient melodies float back into our souls, reawakening us for what lies ahead.
S’lichot was a time to test your stamina. The service would begin at midnight and conclude well past one in the morning.
At the end of the service, my father, the rabbi, would give his benediction and conclude, boker tov, good morning.
The Psalms tell us that King David would get up at midnight to praise God. The Talmud explains that until then, he would doze off like a horse, but at the stroke of midnight, he would rise like a lion. How did he know it was time to awake? A harp would be above his bed, and when the wind blew, the instrument would play.
While the shofar is often mentioned as our spiritual alarm clock, it is the soft chimes of the harp that awakes David. At times, we need the sharp piercing call to move us to action and suddenly awaken us. Other times, we need the wind to blow gently, to guide us in a soothing way.
Tomorrow evening, the mood of the season transforms. We will change our Torah covers from red to white. The Cantor will chant, shema koleinu: God, listen to our prayer.
As you walk through the halls of Sinai Temple, you notice that our sanctuaries await our arrival. It is now our turn to prepare.