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Rabbi Safman's Weekly Message

Dear Friends,

As we join together to celebrate Shabbat we invite you to bring a kiddush cup or any glass filled with wine or grape juice and join together with us at the end of services to share in a l'chayim.

I look forward to celebrating Shabbat with you.

Rabbi K

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5784 ~ September 15, 2023

I’m often saddened when the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat. I sense the desire of so many who come to shul to hear the beautiful calls and cries of the shofar, only to be disappointed that on Shabbat we do not sound the shofar. Throughout the generations there has been dialogue on returning to the days when in the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the shofar blasts were heard even on Shabbat.  And the debate and discussion are not solely within the concept of hearing the shofar at the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, but in our own synagogues.

During the Spanish Inquisition, many Jews converted to Catholicism not wishing to be exiled and forced to flee to a new host country that might be welcoming, or to leave the land which they either grew up in or in which they had a business interest. In private, they practiced their Jewish faith.  They were known as Marranos or Conversos. And while they were forcibly baptized, their sense of Jewish identity instilled in them the need to find expression of their Jewishness. For example, many lit Shabbat candles in the dark recesses of their homes.

As Rosh Hashanah approached,  many desired to hear the sound of the shofar.  They also feared that if it were found out that they either blew or heard the shofar, that their truth would be found out and they would have been put to death as punishment.

One brave soul amongst them was the Don Fernando, the conductor of the royal orchestra in Barcelona. As Rosh Hashanah approached, “he yearned to hear the sound of the shofar.” He heard from other Converso’s of their disappointment of not being able to hear the shofar, and their yearning to hear the sounds of the tekiah, sh’varim, tru’ah and the tekiah gedolah.

So the great conductor announced publicly that on a particular day, which just happened to be Rosh Hashanah, “he would present a concert featuring instrumental music of various peoples.”

“Many of the Marranos (the forcibly converted Jews) came … to hear the sound of the shofar…and they did! Many varied compositions were played by the performers, among them also the shofar sounds: teki’ah, shvarim and trua’h, in full keeping with the prescribed order of the mitzvah of shofar, under the very direction of Don Aguilar himself without any of the (Catholic) clergy aware of it.

It has been said: No one ever succeeded in confounding the Accuser through the Shofar sounds, as did Don Aguilar.  All of the emissaries of the Accuser were present; the leading figures in the Hierarchy and the Inquisition – they all heard and saw, but knew nothing…” (The Book of Our Heritage, Eliyahu Kitov.)

While we as a congregation continue the tradition of not sounding the shofar when Rosh Hashanah occurs on Shabbat, within our neshama, our Jewish souls, I am certain that we will hear the tekiah, the shvarim, and tru’ah, as though the sounds were actually a part of our service. Perhaps we might imagine Don Aguilar himself leading the orchestra.

And then we will remember, that unlike the Jews of Spain and Portugal of that time, we will hear those sounds that reach down to the depth of our souls, on the second day of Rosh Hashanah both at our morning services and at our Tashlich service on the sand of Mitchell College beach.

May both our internal shofarot on the first day, and the physical shofar sounds on the second day, provide us with a sense of a pride of being able to celebrate these days of Awe openly with family, friends and community. 

Through the shofar blasts, may we be inspired to make our personal world, the lives of those whom we touch, and God’s world, one that is filled with blessing of life, health, happiness, love of our family and friends, and life’s fulfillment.

Shana Tova U’Metukah. May this year be one that provides you with the goodness in life, filled with much sweetness.

Rabbi Kideckel


Sun, October 1 2023 16 Tishrei 5784