Deborah was a woman who was adored by many and who adored life. As she celebrated many birthdays, her body began to contract into itself and cause her a great deal of physical pain, while her mind and heart expanded, reaching to the desert, reaching to the wisdom of the Jewish ancestors, and reaching to the ancestors of the land in which she lived. She learned and learned and wanted more than anything to continue to learn what there was to this life of hers and those around her. And yet, it was whispered that when she was on her death bed, when she had one foot in this world and one in the other, she was heard to say, “there was never anything we really needed to learn. We are born with all we need to know.”
A few years before Deborah died, the contraction of her muscles gave her such unbearable pain she said she was ready to be drawn to her kin. She decided to stop eating and drinking.
Yet, she forgot that she had a special and very unique gift that was greatly needed in her community. You see, Rosh Hashanah was approaching next month and there was no one who knew how to blow shofar for the elders who lived at the Jewish Home. They were in a search of a baal tekiah, a person to blow the shofar, especially with the holiness that sacred act involved. Someone remembered hearing Deborah blow the shofar in years past, and how much it had moved them. They approached her gently, “Deborah, might you be willing to blow the shofar this year?” At first she said she was tired and had no koach, no strength, for such a holy act. She was ready and preparing to die. But they said, “let us hold the shofar to your lips. Give it a try”. (Shofar is heard!) They had never heard anything as beautiful, filled with wailing, filled with the sounds from a place there were no words for.
They encouraged her to eat a little something and blow the shofar for the Jewish elder community for Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur. And of course at the beginning of the month of Elul she had to begin blowing shofar every day to prepare. Every day someone from the community came to her home to hold the shofar to her lips. She blew. Hearing the shofar coming from her lips awakened Deborah. She began to eat and spend her days practicing for RH, and helping the community prepare during the month of Elul. And that year, and for several years after, everyone in the Elder Jewish community was blessed to hear what they needed in order to return.
To return to the home they had always imagined. And Deborah, well I can only imagine what she was blessed with. And when she died, she said “there was never anything we really needed to learn. We are born with all we need to know.” Deborah’s story reminds us that the shofar call is one tool to help us remember what we already know.
As I blow the shofar this year, may the shofar’s call surprise you, awaken you, and transport you to places you had always imagined to return. And, maybe to a place you hadn’t remembered until now. And like Deborah said, “there was never anything we really needed to learn. We are born with all we need to know.” Ken yhi ratzon.