This morning in shul, the second day of Rosh Hodesh Elul, the shofar was sounded. Each morning, until the day before Rosh Hashanah, this will continue. It is a striking sound, reminding Jews that the High Holy Days are now one month away, and that the time has come to begin a process of consideration, reflection, and self-judgement. For rabbis, the sound has another meaning – the most serious sermon deadline of the year is upon us! Our sermon thoughts must be translated to structured texts that we can deliver to our congregations with wisdom, gravity, humor, and meaning.
I’ve always felt the HHD sermon is highly over rated. The truth is there have been some fabulous sermons delivered over the years, but very rarely do they actually change someone’s life. And there have been some lousy sermons as well, and within a few days, or weeks, no one remembered.
That being said, any honest rabbi will tell you they’ve had the following dream: You wake up the morning of the big holiday, you are late, you realize the day somehow crept up on you, you have to be at shul, and you have no sermon – nothing. You step into the pulpit, all of the faces staring at you, and you have absolutely nothing to say. You open your mouth, not even knowing what will come out. And then…you wake up!