Typically, the uniqueness of a year can be determined only at its end. The special events, milestones and great accomplishments define how we will remember the past 12 months. Yet there are some years that are significant from the onset. The senior year in high school or the first year of marriage are always special from day one.

The new Jewish year of 5776 is unique from the beginning: it is a “Year of Hakhel” (gathering). The Torah teaches that every seventh year, known as the year of Shemittah, the Land of Israel must be allowed to lay fallow. The following year, on the holiday of Sukkot, every Jew—man, woman and child—was obligated to ascend to the Holy Temple for an event called Hakhel. The king would read selected portions of the book of Deuteronomy in the presence of the entire congregation. This served to inspire the nation to remain committed to the Torah and mitzvahs.

The Tosefta1 (an early Talmudic text) relates that on the day of Hakhel, the kohanim (priests) would station themselves in all the public areas of Jerusalem and blow golden trumpets to announce the commencement of Hakhel. It was of utmost importance that every kohen participate in this public declaration of Hakhel, to the point that if one failed to do so, his priestly lineage was cast into question.

It seems odd to suggest that failure to be part of this campaign would be cause for such backlash. After all, the message of Hakhel would be heard throughout the city even if there was one less kohen blasting his trumpet. However, each individual kohen was a necessary component in spreading the word.

The national Hakhel gathering in its glorious format took place only during the Temple era. However, as with each detail in the Torah, it is relevant to our day and age. The Hakhel year is an auspicious time to gather fellow Jews for the purpose of learning Torah and encouraging each other to observe more mitzvahs. Additionally, in the age of modern technology and Internet connectivity, we all have a “trumpet”—a means to spread a message. It may be a social media account, or simply a cell phone that can send out a text message.

I suggest we use our “trumpets” throughout the year to broadcast Jewish messages. Update your Facebook status with a Jewish thought, tweet a Jewish quote that inspires you, post a photo on Instagram of yourself doing a mitzvah, and encourage your friends to do the same. We are all needed in the grand marketing campaign of Judaism.

#BlastYourJewishTrumpet