When I was a child, an alarm clock sat on my bed stand. It was a real alarm clock-not a phone with a ring, but an old-fashioned clock with a bell. On some days, I dreaded that sound ringing in my ear, and on other days, I could not wait for the ring to wake me up for exciting days ahead.
Judaism has kept its original alarm clock-the shofar, and it is time to sound the call, to wake us up inside, to hear the call of tekiah, the pure long blast, followed by shorter blasts, reminiscent of our broken world. Yet, we know the last call will put those broken pieces together with a tekiah gedola.
Why are there difference calls of the shofar? The Talmud explains that people around the world cry differently. Some moan slowly while others have a staccato cry for help, like the beating of the heart. The Rabbis put these traditions together to demonstrate oneness. The magnificence of our tradition is that the uniqueness of who we are as individuals creates the wholeness of our community as one. This is true in joy and this is true in sorrow.
This Shabbat begins the month of Elul. Each and every day, besides Shabbat, our morning prayers conclude with these blasts. Wherever we are, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, or Jerusalem, our cries are heard as one. Our moans, our shouts, our songs, come together as am echad lev echad, one nation, one heart.
May this month leading up to Rosh Hashana, the New Year, be one in which we return to that original alarm clock, not afraid to wake up, but excited to greet the day.