The Rosh Hashanah Anthology

By Philip Goodman | Go to book overview

XV
ROSH HASHANAH IN MANY LANDS

DAYS OF AWE IN AN EAST EUROPEAN TOWN

HAYYIM SCHAUSS

The Days of Awe do not arrive suddenly and unexpectedly; people start preparing for them a long time in advance. The attitude during the entire month of Elul is already an earnest and sober one, and all feel that soon the solemn days, the days of penitence, will begin.

But undercurrents of the coming holidays are felt even earlier, are felt on the Sabbath at which the blessing for the coming New Moon, that of Elul, is recited. Every Sabbath before a New Moon is a special Sabbath in the synagogue. But the Sabbath before Elul is exalted above all the other pre-New Moon Sabbaths. One knows that very soon, in just a few days, the call of the shofar will be heard and when the cantor, holding the Torah scroll, calls out "Rosh Hodesh Elul," the ring of his voice is far different from the tone he uses on other Sabbaths on which he announces Rosh Hodesh.

-185-

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