I saw both of these jokes just before Rosh Hashanah and realized that in addition to the humor, they also carry High Holiday truths and messages.
THE MEMORIAL PLAQUE
A young boy was standing in the synagogue looking up at a plaque that had a lot of names inscribed with flags emblazoned into the design. The Rabbi came over and explained that these are the names of men and women who had died in the service. “Which service,” asked the boy, suddenly quite concerned, “Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur?”
We certainly hope no one is adversely affected by the prayers services! But there’s a message here: Our High Holidays prayer services shouldn’t just be about showing up and being passive but involved and heroic, a sign of Jewish patriotism and loyalty, representing total personal commitment and sacrifice.
THE GYM COMPLAINT
“I signed up for a gym six months ago but didn’t lose any weight. I’m going to go in there tomorrow in person to find out what’s wrong.”
This line is a great update to old parables (the one with a poor man eyeing rich man’s service bell, or a villager eager to get big city’s fire alarm without even thinking about a firefighting system) about Shofar’s effect… Yes! It is a great and important Mitzvah just to hear the Shofar! No doubt about that. But then we ought to internalize, actualize and apply its call to our lives, it ought to have a transformative personal effect through our efforts… What happens on Rosh Hashanah should NOT stay in Rosh Hashanah.