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The Call of the Shofar
by Rabbi Yosef Carlebach
I recently experienced a simple story in the Emergency Room of Shaarei Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem.  This past summer, I was the spiritual leader of a group of 50 adults and children celebrating a Bar Mitzvah of one congregant.  After the initial Bar Mitzvah Aliya at the Kotel on Thursday morning, we were expecting to celebrate a beautiful inspirational Shabbat together in the King David Hotel. 

Well, Divine Providence had other plans for me.  I developed a severe case of cellulitis on the eve of Shabbat and had to be taken urgently to the emergency department of Shaarei Zedek Hospital.  Travelling to the hospital, the considerable pain in my leg was only surpassed by my emotion of "letting down" my group for Shabbat and the Bar Mitzvah.   "To travel 5,000 miles just to have this lousy 'gesheft' in my leg - and then not to be there for my people - Oy Vey!"

Lying on a gurney in the emergency room of an Israeli hospital on a Friday night is interesting.  One sees a cross section of Israel,  Jew and Arab.   But what surprised me the most, and what took away all my pain for a few minutes, was the following.   A young rabbi walked into the ER, and started circulating around the nurses station shouting, "Shabbat Shalom - Shabbat Shalom" for 30 seconds.   People started congregating in the center of the large room.  Hospital patients (in all stages of dress and undress), family members, nurses, hospital personnel, cleaners,came together to hear the rabbi's Kiddush Prayer welcoming in the holy Shabbat Day.   People put their arms over their heads as makeshift Yarmulkes, and parents held their children close, as the beauty of Shabbat transcended all pain at that moment in the ER.

I cried.  I said to G-d, "Look at your precious children, that welcome you and Shabbat in midst of all their pain and hardships",
So too, on Rosh Hashana, we the nation of Israel, G-d's people, stand together - in all stages of spiritual dress, and listen to the sound of the Shofar.   We welcome the New Year, and resolve to get closer to our Creator.   Our father, G-d is looking too, seeing how His children and nation are present in Shul to proclaim their loyalty to their Creator and Master of the Universe.  Let all our prayers be speedily answered and fulfilled.  May we all be blessed with a Happy, Healthy, Sweet New Year, and a Year of Mashiach and Complete Redemption for Israel and all Mankind!  

L'Shana Tova !

Rabbi Yosef Carlebach is spiritual leader of Congregation Sons of Israel - Ocean, and Chabad of Greater Monmouth


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