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    Fear & future – Rosh HaShanah

    Blowing the shofar reminds us of the ram that Abraham offered to God in place of Isaac – the gripping theme of the second day of Rosh HaShanah.

    There are Midrashic views that say that there were only two moments when father and son “went along together”, but there wasn’t a third one when Isaac got up and walked away together.

    Whatever the truth of the Midrash, the crucial thing is that there was fear but also future. The fear could never be forgotten, but in the end Isaac lived.

    Tragically, we have lived through times of immense fear and though the knife wrought its horrors the Jewish people lived.

    This is the message of Rabbi Yitzchak Flinker of Piotrkov. He smuggled a shofar into the labour camp. Probably no-one who was there survived the Holocaust, but the symbolism of the shofar did. They can kill us but we live.

    The prewar communities with their eager Jews and ancient traditions are, alas!, destroyed, but Am Yisra’el lives.

    People who don’t understand tell us to forgive and forget. We can’t forget.

    Can we forgive? Martin Buber (or was it Leo Baeck?) said it was up to the Germans and their henchmen to decide whether they can forgive themselves.

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