New beginnings are always difficult.

For those who are not “morning people,” every day is a new beginning, and we must be thankful to whoever invented the alarm clock, which keeps us from being labeled as “slothful” and “lazy.”

No other beginning is quite as profound as the one we face annually at Rosh Hashana. On the Jewish New Year, God gives all people the chance to face His judgment and wipe their slate clean.

The great symbol of Rosh Hashana is, of course, the shofar. When the shofar is sounded in the synagogue, it is meant to serve as an alarm clock that awakens our souls and reminds us of the awesomeness of the day.

Knowing well the nature of people, our sages realized that what we really needed was an alarm clock with a “snooze” function. Yes, “snooze,” that wonderful button that tells us that we must get up very, very soon, but not just yet. The snooze button reflects the recognition that people naturally desire to continue sleeping and not get up at what feels like the crack of dawn. The rabbis therefore instituted the blowing of the shofar every morning during the month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashana.

Every morning, during the synagogue services, the shofar is sounded in the synagogue, allowing us to push the “snooze” button, and reminding us that the real alarm, the Rosh Hashana alarm to which we must truly respond is soon at hand.

This Treat was originally sent on Monday, September 22, 2008.

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