September 22, 2003
Are You Sleeping?
"The LORD said to Moses, 'Say to the Israelites: "On
the first day of the seventh month you are to have a
day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with
shofar blasts"'" (Vayikra / Leviticus 23:23).
The evening of September 26 this year (2003) is the
beginning of the Jewish holy day of what has become
known as Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. It is "what has
become known as" because there is no biblical
reference to this day being the beginning of the year.
In the Torah (Five Books of Moses), this holiday is
actually called, "Yom Truah" or "The day of blowing" –
the blowing referring to the blowing of the shofar, or
in English, the ram's horn.
The word, "truah" is mentioned in the Scriptures
several times and seems to have to do with the
sounding of an alarm or a call to battle. Truah is a
warning. It is a call to people to pay attention, to
notice what is going on, to wake up.
Most alarm clocks and clock radios today have a snooze
feature. This allows the sleeper to silence the alarm
knowing that in a few minutes, the alarm will go off
again. This feature well suits human nature. We don't
wake up easily, or at least we don't stay awake that
easily. Sometimes we need to hear the alarm again and
again before we truly are awake.
Yom Truah or Rosh Hashanah as it is called today, is
about sounding the alarm. Throughout the world on this
day (though most synagogues don't sound the shofar
when the holiday falls on the Sabbath as it does this
year) the shofar is sounded several times. The shofar
is sounded to wake us up – to wake us up to the
reality of life.
What you may not be aware of is that the sounding of
the shofar on this day is not like the sudden
interrupting sound of your alarm clock first thing in
the morning. Each day for a whole month before the
holiday, the shofar is sounded. People who attend
synagogue every day, as some do, would hear it's
haunting sound over and over again. So when Yom Truah
arrives, the hearers have already had their
opportunity to doze off and go back to sleep. But once
the day arrives, you are not to go back to sleep
again. It is time to wake up.
The alarm is sounding. In many different ways God has
been trying to wake us up. From time to time we hear
the alarm, but how many of us just go back to sleep?
One day the alarm will sound for the last time. Those
who fail to respond will never get another chance.
Do you hear the alarm? Do you hear God speaking to you
today, calling you to action? What are waiting for?
Act now before you fall asleep again.