Rosh HaShana: Hats, Elephants, and God, by Rabbi Chaim Strauchler

What is this?


Those who have not read The Little Prince will answer that it is a hat. However, the author of this children’s classic wants us to see more within our world. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry encourages us to allow our imaginations to see hidden things. In fact, argues his narrator, the picture above is not a hat but a boa constrictor that has swallowed an elephant. This might help you see what he means.


We imagine that we see the world, as it is. Yet, much lies hidden below the surface. This is true not only of children’s drawings – but also of our internal pains, joys, and hopes. These pains, joys, and hopes are the elephant and boa constrictor to the possessions and appearances that are the hat. We are not what we own or what the mirror shows; we are how we dream and how we love.

We work during the High Holiday season to get below the surface. We attempt to transcend the incessant buzzing of our devices and to get beneath the pressing hum of work and social commitments. We try to more clearly see our truest pains, joys, and hopes. We seek a fuller appreciation of what the world really is and who we really are. We aspire to a heightened sense of God and ultimate meaning. This is what we desire from these days. Now, how do we do it?

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