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Tuesday, Elul 24, 5782 / September 20, 2022


Q.  Why is the horn, which we blow on Rosh Hashana, called "Shofar"?


A.   "Shofar" comes from the word, "Shufra/Shapru" which means to better and beautify.  The sound of the "Shofar" is a call to return to G-d and a reminder to "better and "beautify" our ways in the future.


Rosh Hashana is not only the beginning of the New Year, but according to the literal translation, it is the Headof the Year.  There is great significance in the name HEADof the year, for everything that will occur throughout the entire coming year has its spiritualorigin in Rosh Hashana.


Since Rosh Hashana is so important, we spend much of the day in prayer. Also, during the Rosh Hashana meals, we eat certain foods that allude to blessing and good measure. For example, we dip the Challah and apple in honey and we pray for a good and sweetNew Year.


It is also customary to eat from the head of a fish or sheep the first night of Rosh Hashana and pray, "May it be Your will thatwe shall be a head and not as the tail."


Q.  Why is it significant to add "and not as the tail," after asking to be "a head"?


A.   In the city of Chelm, a person passed by a long line on the street.  He asked the last one in line what are you standing in line for? The person replied that he had no idea, but when he walked by and saw the long line, he figured it must be worthwhile so he got into line.


Curious, the man went from one person to another, asking why were they in line? Each one had the same reply, "We have no idea,but seeing so many people in line we figuredit must be worthwhile."


Finally, he asked the man at the head of the line, “what are in line for?” The man replied that he had no idea.  "I was walking and stopped to tie my shoe, when I saw a line formed behind me!"


The man was shocked. "I can understand the people behind you, for they think that you are waiting for something important, but you know that there is no purpose for this line! So why don't you leave?"


"What! I should leave the line!  This is the first time in my whole life that I'm at the head of the line... are you suggesting that I just leave?!"


There is an important lesson in the prayer, "May it be Your will that we shall be a head and not as the tail." As we try to go "forward" and "advance" in life, we should be careful and judge whether the things we stand in line for; work so hard to acquire and make such effort to be at the head of the line to get them, are they truly worth it. Are we not giving up something much more important… Are we really "a-head" or perhaps in a "tail-spin..." Now is the time to take stock of our achievements during the past year and set the proper goals for the New Year!