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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Blowing the Shofar
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“One Thing I Asked” – No Confusion

The verse “One thing I asked of God” represents the essence of our spiritual task in the month of Elul. “That I dwell in the House of God all the days of my life” - just this. No confusion. When this is the case, Divine assistance is granted.
Dedicated to the memory of
Revital Bat Lea
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Regarding the blowing of the Shofar (ram's horn) on Rosh Hashanah, the sages say, "Why do they blow and blast while sitting, and blow and blast while standing? In order to confuse the Satan" (Rosh Hashanah 16a).

Some rabbinic authorities (the Rosh and the Tur) explain that this is also the reason that we blow the Shofar during the entire month of Elul. Throughout the year, the Satan confuses our opinions, thoughts, and beliefs. Our task during the month of Elul is to make sense of this confusion.

Confusion is one of the consequences of the destruction of the Holy Temple, as the sages say, "Ever since the destruction of the Holy Temple, the sages began to be like school teachers, school teachers like synagogue attendants, synagogue attendants like common people, and the common people became more and more debased" (Sotah 49a). Everything was shaken up. Even the common people lost there status. The goal of Elul is to resolve this confusion, and this is why we blow the Shofar.

During the month of Elul we recite twice daily the words "One thing I asked of God, this shall I seek - that I dwell in the House of God all the days of my life, to behold the sweetness of God and to contemplate His Sanctuary" (Psalms 27:4). One thing I asked and no more - no confusion. There must be a single desire, and no more. One must be as decisive in his desire to dwell in the House of God as our ancestors were to receive the Tablets of the Covenant in the month of Elul.

We learn this idea from the words of the Torah, "See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil . . . therefore choose life" (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19). We must choose life and not fluctuate indecisively. Only where there is a foundation of "one" is there the sweetness of Torah.

Each one of us senses this confusion, and the task of the month Elul is to wage war upon it. The verse "One thing I asked of God, etc." represents the essence of our spiritual task. "That I dwell in the House of God all the days of my life," this alone and nothing else. No confusion. When this is the case, Divine assistance is granted, and it is in this sense that Elul is considered a time of Divine favor.

At the beginning of the same Psalm 27, it is written, "Though war would arise against me, in this I trust." The commentator R' Avraham Ibn Ezra explains that the words "in this" refer to the continuation the following verse - "One thing I asked of God." This single request is what provides us with trust and security.

May it be God's will that our prayers become the desire of the entire Jewish people for the coming year.

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Some of the translated Psalms in the above article were taken from or based upon the Artscroll Psalms. Other verses and Talmudic sources were taken from or based upon Davka's Soncino Judaic Classics Library (CD-Rom).

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