This is Not a Shofar

This is Not a Shofar

As I sat in a synagogue on Rosh HaShanah, I was disappointed that there would be no Avinu Malkenu and no Shofar. But in there was a lesson. Sometimes you don’t get what you expect, not on the holiday, and not during the year. I didn’t get to hear the shofar on the first day, Hagar did not get to remain with Abraham as she expected, and Hannah did not get a child when she expected it. And one must learn how to handle it when events do not meet expectations.

As I sat there, I wondered whether it was an accident that Rosh Hashanah and International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) both occured on September 19, this year? No, I say. There must be a hidden meaning in there. Rosh Hashanah, with its apples and honey in America, weanings, stories of Hannah, Isaac, and Samuel, and new years greetings, and ITLAPD, with its pirate-abonics… what is the deeper meaning? Yes, there are those who write that there were a handful of famous Jewish pirates after the Spanish Inquisition, among them Moses and Abraham Cohen Henriques, Sinan (Barbarossa’s second in command), Jean Lafitte (some biographies assert that his wife was a Danish Jew and that he was raised by his Jewish grandmother who suffered under the Inquisition) and Rabbi Samuel Palache. But that gets me nowhere. And then it dawned on me. It is the pirate word, “Arrrhhh.” Arrhhh means Hineni, Arrrhhh means “look at me, here I am.” We have made it another year. And that must be the lesson. Samuel Palache went from being involved in the privateer industry to becoming a rabbinical leader of the post Inquisition Dutch Jewish community. Teshuva is possible at any point. “Arrhhh” lets us celebrate that we made it another year, and we can look forward to another one. So, Avast ye mateys, and have a sweet new year.

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