The significance of the shofar blast

September 16, 2017

In a few days, we will be celebrating the Feast of Trumpets and Jews along with a growing number of Christians will gathered together to observe this Biblical Holy Day. There will be special services and time devoted to repentance and introspection, but the focal point of the day will be when the shofar is sounded. This simple trumpet made from an animal’s horn produces a sound that connects eternity to eternity. The traditional blasting of the shofar one hundred times is both exciting and empowering to the hearer. This powerful sound, which is of such great importance that it was commanded by G-D to be heard by the Children of Israel, has an even greater importance. It is one that is often missed by those who have consistently gathered year after year to hear the sound so as to fulfill the commandment.

 

For the majority of those who will gather in synagogues to hear the shofar, the purpose of the sound is to mark the opening of the doors of repentance for the period of time between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. These ten days are known as the “Days of Awe.” But, there is an even greater meaning given for the shofar sounding, one that reminds us that repentance isn’t the end of the story for those who love G-D. While the shofar does remind us of the open door for repentance, its purpose is not only to lead us to our knees in repentance.

 

This greater purpose for the sounding of the shofar has been lost to some extent because the use of the shofar in Judaism has throughout the years become limited to the sounding on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (and in some places on Rosh Chodesh). However, the shofar was used  to proclaim the coronation of a King, as well as its use in warfare to direct the army. It is these two uses that have been lost to most people, and as such, Rosh Hashanah has become a time only for sorrow and repentance, when its purpose was not singular in ancient times.

 

On Rosh HaShanah, a prayer called Avinu Malkei