Today is the first day of the month of Elul. Starting today, and for the entire month, we sound the shofar every morning after our prayers to prepare ourselves for the Days of Awe which are coming. I had taken my shofar with me and was looking forward to the moment when I would sound it in the Cave of Machpelah. The moment came. I lifted the beautiful Shofar, placed it upon my lips and began to blow. Nothing came out. I could not sound the shofar! I took a look at the ram’s horn and noticed that, somehow during the time I had stored it away, some kind of insect had built its home inside which had blocked the passage of air. It was a disappointment not to be able to sound the horn, but there was nothing I could do.
After I arrived home I pushed a wire through the shofar to clear the passage and rinsed it with wine. Now it works perfectly and I look forward to sounding it tomorrow morning. Certainly it was an embarrassment not to be able to sound the Shofar. I never practice, since I trust that if it is G-d’s Will that the notes come out good, they will. If not, they will not. It is not in my hands. But had I tried to sound the horn in preparation before this morning I would have discovered the problem and would have been able to clean it out before I needed it.
This incident points out the need to prepare ourselves for the Day of Atonement. We cannot assume that we are prepared for this holy day. We must carefully examine our deeds and search for ways to improve ourselves. We all make mistakes. If we take the time to try and discover ways to avoid repeating those mistakes and to feel genuine remorse for having made them, we can face the Day of Judgment with confidence.
Our government should take notice as well. Leaders who have ignored Biblical commands and entered into negotiations with our enemies should be willing to recognize their mistakes. The only result of trying to make peace by appeasing terror has been more terror and the strengthening of our enemies. Every time we give in to enemy demands we only find more demands accompanied by an increase in terror. Only when we find a truly G-d fearing Jewish leadership which is willing to finish the War of Independence, which our leaders have consistently chosen not to win, will we see a relief from terror and a return to self respect which we have long given up. This is the time of year to repent and correct our errors. May our leaders be the first to set the example.