A New Day At TA / The Elul Snooze

Thursday, 9 August, 2018 - 1:08 pm

What began as a big step toward a secure NOLA Jewish future in last spring, has now evolved into a giant leap. Just a few months after a successful launch to the “Burn The Mortgage Campaign” with a goal of $3.5 million, Torah Academy was presented with a significant naming gift, and will henceforth be known as “Joseph and Rosina Slater Torah Academy.” This gift by longtime member of the New Orleans Jewish community, Rosina Slater, brings the campaign to 80% percent of the goal. A naming dedication ceremony will be held within the month, with details to be released in the near future. For further dedication opportunities see

This coming Shabbat is the beginning of the month of Elul on the Jewish calendar. Elul represents a shift in focus as we look toward the Days of Awe – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe recalled the Elul atmosphere of his childhood town of Lubavitch. “On the Shabbat before Elul, though it was a clear, sunny day, there was a change in the air; one already smelled the Elul-scent, a Teshuvah-wind was blowing.”

One of the activities that helps us become Elul focused, is the daily sounding of the Shofar. Maimonides shares an interesting take on the purpose for sounding the Shofar. “Even though the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a scriptural decree, it contains an allusion. It is as if (the shofar's call) is saying: Wake up you sleepy ones from your sleep and you who slumber, arise. Inspect your deeds, repent, remember your Creator. Those who forget the truth in the vanities of time and throughout the entire year, devote their energies to vanity and emptiness which will not benefit or save: Look to your souls. Improve your ways and your deeds and let every one of you abandon his evil path and thoughts.”

In contemporary terms, the Shofar is the ring of our alarm clock or smartphone notification ringtone. What happens when the alarm clock rings in the morning? Either you wake up or you press snooze. If you press snooze, it rings again 9 minutes later. Rinse, lather, repeat. It’s possible (and for many people, probable) that you can continue pressing snooze every 9 minutes for a long time. (Trust me, I know from personal experience.)

The same is true for Elul and the shofar. We can hear the blast of the Shofar and press snooze on our convictions to improve and get closer to Hashem. In fact we can go through the whole month of Elul pressing snooze with the intention of “waking up” in 9 minutes, only to find that the month has slipped away and we are face to face with Rosh Hashanah without the slightest shift in a positive direction. So don’t snooze through Elul. Wake up and get the early bird special on Teshuvah, while it is hot and fresh.

May we all be inscribed and sealed for a happy, healthy, prosperous and meaningful new year of 5779.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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