The Sounds of the Shofar: T’kia Sh’varim T’ru . . . T’ru . . . Trump

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2016-10-03 – Here’s to a good year! – לשנה טובה – L’shanah tova!

Today is Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year), the beginning of the 10 days of awe that will culminate next week with Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). While I am not a synagogue Jew, I always take this time to reflect on my life and where I am going.

As a secular Jew, I will not hear the sound of the ram’s horn (shofar) that is blown in the synagogue. The ritual comprises three basic sounds: t’kiah, which is one long note; sh’varim, which is broken into three sounds; and t’ruah, which is broken into nine short blasts.

T’ruah stands for alarm. It is to wake us up.

This year, the T’ruah is T’rump. The wake-up call.

For most of this year I’ve written about the urgency of defeating Donald Trump’s candidacy for the presidency. But even as I’ve been appalled at the man and his antics, I’ve also tried to consider how we, as a nation, have enabled him. I’ve tried to consider what his supporters want. I’ve tried to separate overt racism (which we must oppose) from the shared pain that our fellow citizens feel (which we must ease). I’ve tried to consider the way our politics of winning at all costs keeps us from solving problems. I’ve tried to consider how us-versus-them keeps us from being “stronger together.”

Next week, synagogues around the country (and around the world) will say the Al Chet confessional. Here is a translation taken from the Chabad website. It applies to all of us and is not meant to be political. But politics is part of life.

For the sin which we have committed before You under duress or willingly.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by hard-heartedness.

For the sin which we have committed before You inadvertently.

And for the sin which we have committed before You with an utterance of the lips.

For the sin which we have committed before You with immorality.

And for the sin which we have committed before You openly or secretly.

For the sin which we have committed before You with knowledge and with deceit.

And for the sin which we have committed before You through speech.

For the sin which we have committed before You by deceiving a fellowman.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by improper thoughts.

For the sin which we have committed before You by a gathering of lewdness.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by verbal [insincere] confession.

For the sin which we have committed before You by disrespect for parents and teachers.

And for the sin which we have committed before You intentionally or unintentionally.

For the sin which we have committed before You by using coercion.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by  desecrating the Divine Name.

For the sin which we have committed before You by impurity of  speech.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by foolish  talk.

For the sin which we have committed before You with the evil  inclination.

And for the sin which we have committed before You knowingly or unknowingly.

For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.

For the sin which we have committed before You by false denial and lying.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a bribe-taking or a bribe-giving hand.

For the sin which we have committed before You by scoffing.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by evil talk  [about another].

For the sin which we have committed before You in business  dealings.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by eating  and drinking.

For the sin which we have committed before You by [taking or  giving] interest and by usury.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a haughty demeanor.

For the sin which we have committed before You by the prattle of our lips.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a glance of the eye.

For the sin which we have committed before You with proud looks.

And for the sin which we have committed before You with impudence.

 For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.

For the sin which we have committed before You by casting off the yoke [of Heaven].

And for the sin which we have committed before You in passing judgment.

For the sin which we have committed before You by scheming against a fellowman.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a begrudging eye.

For the sin which we have committed before You by frivolity.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by obduracy.

For the sin which we have committed before You by running to do evil.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by tale-bearing.

For the sin which we have committed before You by swearing in vain.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by causeless hatred.

For the sin which we have committed before You by embezzlement.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a confused heart.

 For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.

And for the sins for which we are obligated to bring a burnt-offering.

And for the sins for which we are obligated to bring a sin-offering.

And for the sins for which we are obligated to bring a varying offering [according to one’s means].

And for the sins for which we are obligated to bring a guilt-offering for a certain or doubtful trespass.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of lashing for rebelliousness.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of forty lashes.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of death by the hand of Heaven.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of excision and childlessness.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of the four forms of capital punishment executed by the Court: stoning, burning, decapitation and strangulation.

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