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A toast to the new year

הרמת כוסית

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

I was asked to make a toast to the new year where I work and a friend of mine received a similar request. These days, numerous toasts of this kind are being made. My toast, more or less, went as follows:
Think about the number of words we have spoken since the beginning of the year, both here at work and at home. We are talking about millions of words that left our mouths. Think about the number of words that we heard and read since the beginning of the year. Again, we are talking about millions. But now, after this seemingly endless stream of words, we begin a new year -- in silence.
An apple dipped in honey is a nice custom. But the mitzvah of Rosh HaShanah is to hear the shofar. In the Torah, this day is not called Rosh HaShanah but rather "Yom Teruah" (a day of sounding the horn), because of the blowing of the shofar. Other nations may celebrate the new year with big parties and gatherings in the street, but we are enjoined to behave differently: to gather in the synagogue, to be silent -- and to just listen.
When we recite the blessing over this mitzvah, we say: "Blessed are You, God our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to hear the sound of the shofar." Not to blow the shofar, but rather to hear the shofar. To close the mouth and open the heart.
The shofar is not fancy and does not glitter. Our commentators explain that its pure and simple sound is that of the soul. We work hard all year long, but once a year we stop creating, sharing, recording, typing, and reacting. When we silence the din around us, we hear an inner and delicate voice. The shofar reminds us of fundamental truths, calls upon us to reset, and brings us home -- back to who we really are. Shana tova.


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