Friday, September 15, 2006

How to spook Satan with a Shofar

My Ramchal class is not going well...

Last night we revisited the belief that one of the reasons you blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana is that it confuses Satan who then cannot concentrate on bringing accusations against you before the Heavenly Court. You see, the rabbi told me, the Heavenly Court is kind of set up like the courts on Earth, except you don't get a defense attorney.

Despite my better judgement, I pointed out to the rabbi that since we are not Manichaeans, we believe that Satan is only doing the work that he was assigned by G-d to do. Assuming that G-d wants him to bring accusations against us, and assuming the shofar really messes him up, we are really going against what G-d wants us to do. He'd have to declare a mistrial.

I was then told that really G-d intentionally built in loopholes into this judgement process to give us as many opportunities to "get off the hook" as possible. This made no sense to me, since it really doesn't sound like a loophole to disrupt the process of judgement, but rather some type of miscarriage of justice. But anyway, I was told that the concepts are very different from how humans perceive justice anyway, at which point I was confused about the purpose of bringing up this analogy in the first place.

Best not to think about it, I think.


Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Why not just make everything simple by assigning a defense attorney? : )

September 15, 2006 4:10 PM  
Blogger kishnevi said...

I've always thought of the Satan as being internal, a form of the yetzer ha-rah. Therefore, by "spooking" the Satan, we are confusing and weakening our own yetzer ha-rah.

September 16, 2006 6:55 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

" Why not just make everything simple "

Obviously, you've never studied Talmud :)

September 16, 2006 10:04 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

Oy...logic and mushy-gushy mussar...never a good combination... *she said cynically*

September 18, 2006 6:04 AM  
Blogger dbs said...

I never figured out where the Satan confusion story came from (though I grew up with it and must have heard it told hundreds of times). There are two main explinations of the custom, the most common one is one given by the Rambam and Taz, that it reminds us to repent. The other is based on a medrash about Moshe/sinai/golden-calf.

It's one of the customs which made it into the Shulchan Aruch, but usually the custom comes first and the reasons come later.

In any case, Shannah Tovah!

September 18, 2006 7:11 PM  
Blogger Shoshana said...

No, don't dare think - that always get you in trouble ;)

September 19, 2006 6:23 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

sounds like someone's been asking too many questions on the story...boy I know what that's like. first of all, since when don't we get a defense attorney? Rashi refers to quite a few scenarios of heavenly court cases which prominently feature defense...I do however, like the idea of G-d setting up a construct with about fifteen different loopholes and then telling us all to go at it and see what happens. kind of like a combination maze/obstacle course....sounds pretty true to life to me, personally.

September 20, 2006 4:22 AM  
Blogger David Guttmann said...

why do you waste your time with this nosnsense. Ramchal did not see Satan as an entity but the Chomer part of a operson. The shofar confuses your Chomer, it reminds you that there is more than physicality and its needs to a human being.

Shana Tova

September 20, 2006 11:49 AM  

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