Monday, September 26, 2011

Bed Time Lessons from The Shofar

As the school year is beginning for our children, it’s a blessing for them to see us adults also engaged in learning. 

With this in mind, this past Shabbat we had a conversation about the shofar, which is blown each day of the month preceding Rosh Hashanah. Our sages tell us that it is meant to help us awaken, to realign with our true calling as we enter the new year. As I am grappling anew with start of school bedtime routines I hope that we won’t need a daily Shofar in our house to get us out of bed.

Jewish texts speak not only of the value of wakefulness but also of the tremendous value of sleep not only for health, but also for our spiritual well being. This reminded me of research findings that show that “around the world, children get an hour less sleep than they did thirty years ago. The cost: decreased IQ, emotional well being, ADHD, and obesity [1].” I learned that the shofar is meant to support not only a process of awakening but also introspection. 

At our conversation’s end, I took away an insight relating to the shofar, which could actually help me with our bedtime routines. The mitzvah related to shofar is to HEAR the shofar. Yet in the Torah we are told that at Mount Sinai the people SAW the sounds of the Shofar. Here’s the insight: Perhaps when we hear another with our full being, with every sense – not only with our ears - then it is an awakening experience. In our family, as part of our bedtime routine, we say the Shema prayer with our children. The same word, HEAR, is used in that prayer. Maybe as part of our bedtime ritual this year, before we say the Shema, I will remember more often to take time to listen to my children with my full being.

Ronit Ziv Kreger has been teaching Ikkarim for many years. She lives in Sharon with her three children. She has a Ph.D. from the Sloan School of Management at MIT and is a Jewish educator in many circles.

[1]See second chapter in ‘Nurtureshock’ by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

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