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Title: Announcing Tool

Major Focus: Rosh Hashanah

Minor Focus: Divine/human partnership

Abstract: God helped a man named Enoch find an appropriate way to announce the coming of the New Year.

Format: Story

Topics:
Enoch


The Announcing Tool
by Rabbi Marc Gellman

A long time ago, when people all lived in one place, getting the news was easy. They had yellers who would walk around town and after no more than a morning of yelling everyone knew that something special had happened.

When people began living all over the place, even the yellers couldn't get the news across. Mostly, people just didn't get the news, but some special events just had to be announced, and the arrival of a New Year was the most special event of all. So a man named Enoch asked God what to do to get the news of the New Year around the world.

God said to Enoch, "You need a special announcing tool -- go find one!" The next day Enoch returned with two rocks. "Listen to my fine announcing tool," he said and banged the two rocks together making a loud rock- banging noise. God said to Enoch, "What kind of announcing tool is this to tell of the arrival of the New Year? Rocks do not make music, they only make noise. The New Year is a time for music and singing, not banging and yelling."

God frowned at Enoch who scurried off to find a new announcing tool.

The next day Enoch returned with a gong. "Listen to my fine announcing tool which makes a beautiful sound," he said, and he hit the gong which made a gong-ringing sound. God said to Enoch, "What kind of announcing tool is this to tell of the arrival of the New Year? The gong does make a beautiful sound, but it is made of iron, and iron is used to make weapons of war. The New Year is a time of peace not war."

God frowned at Enoch who scurried off to find a new announcing tool.

The next day Enoch returned with a harp. "Listen to my fine announcing tool which makes a beautiful sound and is not made of iron!" Then Enoch strummed a tune on the harp. God said to Enoch, "The harp also will not do as an announcing tool for the New Year. The harp does indeed make beautiful sounds and it is not a weapon of war, but the harp is too soft a sound to announce the New Year. The New Year is a time of loud rejoicing, and a loud announcing tool is needed, a tool that will carry the news of the New Year from hilltop to hilltop around the world."

God frowned at Enoch who scurried off to find a new announcing tool.

The next day Enoch arrived with a golden trumpet. "Listen to my fine announcing tool which makes a beautiful sound, is not made of iron and is loud enough to carry the news from hilltop to hilltop." Then Enoch blew a loud note on the golden horn.

God said to Enoch, "The golden horn is a good announcing tool, but not good enough for the New Year. True, the golden horn makes beautiful sounds, is not made of iron, and is loud enough, but the horn is not a natural instrument. It is made by man and not by Me. It is hollow, but not naturally hollow. It is made hollow by human hands. It only makes a beautiful sound after it has been pounded and shaped by human hands. The New Year is not a time to glorify human creations. The New Year is for all creatures, the animals and people as well. Find something to celebrate the New Year which is for all My creatures."

God frowned at Enoch who scurried off to find a new announcing tool.

The next day Enoch was a little late in coming, but he finally arrived a little out of breath. "I am embarrassed to present my new announcing tool. It is only a ram's horn -- not nearly as beautiful as the golden horn, or as sweet and delicate as the harp -- but it does make fine sounds, and it is not a weapon of war, and it is loud enough to get the news from hilltop to hilltop. I have done nothing to the horn, it is naturally hollow, and it comes from one of Your creatures. But there is just one thing. All the other instruments were easy to make a sound with, but this ram's horn is impossible to play. I blow and blow, and then a toot comes out, and then nothing, and then maybe another toot. I wish it were easier."

God smiled the biggest smile at Enoch and taught him how to blow the ram's horn for the big celebration of the New Year which was soon to begin.


Teacher Study Guide

Text Background: For information regarding Rosh Hashanah, its mention in the Torah and a variety of stories and commentaries on it, it is suggested that the teacher consult the Torah Productions Index.

Objective: To share with students Rabbi Gellman's delightful and original midrash concerning the possible origin of the ram's horn as the tool for announcing New Moons and the High Holidays. This piece has nothing whatsoever to do with Parasha Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1 to 29:8), but is placed here because of its proximity to Rosh Hashanah in the Jewish calendar.

Suggestion: The story can be read to the students, or by the students, depending on class maturity and teacher discretion.