Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Amidah - part 10 - Freedom

Yesterday, Susanna Musser made another plea for prayers on behalf of an anonymous "warrior".

I think today's section of the Amidah is an appropriate response:

Sound the great shofar for our freedom; raise a banner to gather our exiles, and bring us together from the four corners of the earth into our land. Blessed are You L-rd, who gathers the dispersed of His people Israel.

The shofar (ram's horn) was traditionally sounded as a battle cry.  Think Joshua and the walls of Jericho. It would both rally the troops and intimidate the enemy.

Today, this sound is heard primarily on the Jewish High Holidays - Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when they are intended to "open the gates of Heaven" to the people's prayers, as well as to awaken the people themselves to the urgency of repentance.   Again, both a "defense" and an "offense" purpose.

The blessing specifically calls for the shofar to sound for freedom, as well as for bringing in the exiles, and unifying the people in their land.  Although in Biblical times it was used to conquer the Promised Land, this was an exception, for an exceptional situation, and not to be used except when specifically and divinely ordained. In our daily prayers, this powerful call is to be used for liberation, not oppression or conquest. 

As an aside, the blessing also refers to "carrying a banner".  This, again, used to be a military practice to identify troop movements.  Today we see banners in parades, demonstrations, and sporting events.  The word for "banner", however, is "ness", which also means "miracle".  The banner under which we liberate and gather the exiles is not simply a military metaphor, but a miracle.

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