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Rabbi Jonathan Ganger
by Published on September 3, 2021

Rosh Hashanah: Awakening the subconscious:

              Rosh Hashanah is defined in the Torah narrowly as the day of the shofar blast. All other holidays have much more written about them and there are more mitzvot. On Yom Kippur we have five different ways of minimizing our involvement in the physical world to prepare for the day, most known is no eating or drinking. On Sukkot we have both the lulav and sukkah. On Passover, we have matzah and marror. On Rosh Hashanah, all we have is our shofar. What can the shofar alone accomplish? What are we meant to think about?

              Rosh Hashanah is the birth of mankind. If we recall, the birth of mankind was not exactly successful in the sense that by the end of the day were kicked out of the house and had lost most of our powers.  The Talmud describes the tragedy that we were once able to ‘see from one end of the earth to the other’, presumably this is a description of our incredible conscious that was open and nearly clairvoyant. After, we were diminished and could barely see past our self. In a sense, we were a shell of our former self. Granted, it is a dramatic story, but does knowledge of what man used to be important? How does it impact us?

              The answer is yes! While that level of man is no longer consciously who we are, we believe that it is subconsciously who we are. Deep down in the recesses of our mind, there is a memory of what we once were, and more importantly, who we could still be. It didn’t disappear entirely, but it does need to be awakened! Famously, Maimonides describes the sound of the shofar as a call to those who are sleeping to ‘awaken from you slumber’. Taken simply, it means we are sleep walking through life. But on a deeper level, we need to make conscious our true potential which is hidden away in our subconscious. Growth can only happen if one realizes that he can be more than he is, that there are more levels buried inside of us that haven’t been uncovered.  That is the mitzvah of the day. We need to awaken that grander vision and realize that while what we were is no longer consciously there and easily accessible- it still exists in the recesses of our mind.  

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