The Heart is an Ax

Once the Baal Shem Tov (18th cent.) commanded Rabbi Zev Kitzes to learn the

secret meanings behind the blasts of the ram’s horn. So Rabbi Zev learned the secret meanings and wrote them

down on a slip of paper to look at during the service, and laid the slip of paper in his


When the time came for the blowing of the shofar, he began to search everywhere for the slip of paper, but it was gone, and he did not know on what imeanings to concentrate. He was greatly saddened. Broken-hearted, he wept bitter tears, and called the blasts of the ram’s horn, without setting his intention on the secret meanings behind them.

Afterward, the Baal Shem Tov said to him: “Lo, in the habitation of the king are to found many rooms and apartments, and there are different keys for every lock; but the master key of all is the ax, with which it is possible to open all the locks on all the gates.

So it is with the ram’s horn: the secret meanings are the keys; every gate has another meaning, but the master key is the open heart. When a person truthfully opens their heart before God, they can enter into all the gates of the apartments of the King above all kings, the Holy Blessed One.”

For 50 years Valley Beth Shalom, has collected poetry, stories and meditations to celebrate the High Holidays. This year I’m posting daily some of the best from the archive.

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