Once it happened that a young boy from a small village came to a big town for the first time. He stopped at an inn, on the outskirts of the town. Suddenly he heard the sound of a bugle. He asked the innkeeper what it meant. “Whenever we have a fire,” the innkeeper explained to the lad, “we sound the bugle, and the fire is quickly put out.”
“How wonderful!” thought the village lad. “What a surprise and sensation I will bring to my village!” Thereupon, the young boy went and bought himself a bugle. When he returned to his village, he was full of excitement. He called all the villagers together. “Listen, good people,” he exclaimed. “No need to be afraid of fire any more. Just watch me, and see how quickly I will put out a fire!”
Saying this, he ran to the nearest hut and set fire to its straw roof. The fire began to spread very quickly. “Don’t be alarmed!” cried the lad. “Now watch me.” The lad began to blow the bugle with all his might to say “Wait, this will put out the fire in no time!” But the fire did not seem to care much for the music, and merely hopped from one roof to another, until the entire village was in flames.
The villagers now began to yell at the boy. “You fool,” they cried. “Did you think that the mere blowing of the trumpet will put the fire out? It is only the call of an alarm, to wake up the people, if they are asleep, or to break them away from their business and work, and send them to the well to draw water and put out the fire!”
We hear 100 blasts of the shofar on Rosh Hashana. We know the sound will wake us up, but we often continue to sleep through the alarm. We wish these were magical sounds to bring peace to our world and happiness to our lives, but we know in reality, it is our job to act upon these shofar blasts.
May the shofar sound the alarm – may we put out the fires together by returning to who we are, and who we wish to become.
Rabbi Guzik and I wish you a Shana Tova, a year of peace and comfort.