Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Show, Don't Tell on Rosh HaShannah


We spend a lot of time the new year in synagogue.
We crown Hashem King.
We ask him to remember our covenant with our fathers Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaacov.
We blow a shofar.

At home, we eat a festive meal with symbols of the kinds of things we want in the new year.

The idea of eating something sweet will bring sweet things into our lives is a bit strange, though.  What does it mean?  Where did our rabbis learn this idea?

Yaacov and Rachel communitcated through symbols or signs.  We learn this in the midrash.  They suspected, rightly! that Rachel's father Lavan, would switch the sisters just before the wedding ceremony so Yaacov gave Rachel signs so he would know that he was marrying her. But Rachel taught her sister Leah the signs before she married Yaacov, so Leah wouldn't be embarrassed and humiliated in front of everyone.

Have you ever seen a couple that just met?
They can't stop talking to each other.  They are on the phone all the time, talk non-stop when they are together, ignore all their family and friends.

Five year, ten years, twenty years later, the same couple don't talk like that.  Often they can know exactly what is going on with the other through a glance, or a tip of the head, or  slight movement of the hand.  At some point, a relationship moves beyond words to a higher level of communication. This is the kind of relationship that Yaacov and Rachel had.

And this is the kind of relationship that we are showing Hashem that we have with Him when we use symbols on Rosh HaShannah:  we're so close to You, we don't have to use words.  We can have these foods on the table and we know that You will understand the meaning behind them, because we have this special relationship with You.

On Rosh HaShannah we want to renew our special relationship with the Creator of the Universe and we want Him to see us a close and unique.  We want Him to look at us as individuals.  So we use signs and symbols that only an initmate will know.

Show, don't tell!

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