gap year in israel

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A young man grew up in a very small and secluded village. He longed to journey beyond his village and see new places. After years of saving money, he managed to accumulate enough money to leave the village. With excitement, he took off to a neighboring town.

Upon arrival, he was immediately captivated by his new environment. He walked through the streets in awe. Suddenly, he heard the sound of a horn coming from atop a watch tower. People sprang to action as they ran into the streets and formed a line. The young man watched as a man filled buckets of water and proceeded to pass them down the line. At the other end, the water was used to extinguish a fire before it engulfed a house. Within a short time, they succeeded and returned to their respective homes and businesses.

The young man was blown away by what he had witnessed. Fires were a big issue back home. Immediately he went out and bought himself a horn. When he eventually returned to his hometown, he told his community that he had seen something wondrous that would change their lives. “Allow me to demonstrate,” he said as he confidently walked over to the nearest hut. He struck a match and touched the flame to the hut. “Are you mad?!” cried the townspeople. “Just wait and see,” he responded with a smile.

Now he pulled out his horn and blew it with all his might. As he finished, he lowered it and said, “Now see as the fire is extinguished…” However, nothing happened. He blew again, but nothing. The people began to scream as they ran for water. Unfortunately, it was too late and the hut burned down.

On Rosh Hashana, we heard the piercing sounds of the shofar. As in the above anecdote, we would be mistaken to conclude like the young man, that by blowing the shofar all issues would fade away. Rather, the shofar, like the horn, is merely a wake-up call or a call to action. We are beckoned to use the wake-up call in order to take legitimate steps to rectify negative behaviors and make meaningful changes in our lives. May we merit to hear the calls and translating them into practical steps for self-improvement for the upcoming Day of Atonement.

Wishing all a Shabbat Shalom and a Gmar Chatima Tova!

– Rabbi Liad Braude

Yom kippur
Parshat nitzavim-vayelech