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11 Reasons Why We Blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

11 Reasons Why We Blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

An artistic presentation of images and text

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We’re familiar with the sights, tastes, and sounds of Rosh Hashanah—the sweet sensation of honey on our tongues, the rhythmic swaying of the congregation in prayer, the cry of the shofar piercing the air. But have we ever stopped to think about the messages behind the deeds of the day?

While every commandment is essentially supra-rational—performed solely because it is the will and command of the Creator—our sages have found meaning and messages behind the commandments we fulfill. Let’s take a look at 11 reasons given for blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.

1. The Return of the King

Image Source: LOC/Flickr
Image Source: LOC/Flickr

On Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of creation, G‑d renews the creative energy that sustains our world. Once more, He is crowned as King of the universe. Just as trumpets are sounded at a coronation, the shofar announces G‑d’s continued kingship.

2. The Great Alarm Clock

Image Source: Chagall
Image Source: Chagall

On Rosh Hashanah, the first of the Ten Days of Repentance, we awake from our spiritual slumber. The shofar is like an alarm that calls on us to examine our deeds and correct our ways, as we return to G‑d.

3. The Reminder

Image Source: Departing(YYZ)/flickr
Image Source: Departing(YYZ)/flickr

The shofar was blown at Mt. Sinai when the Torah was given. On Rosh Hashanah, we blow the shofar to remind us to rededicate ourselves to Torah study—and to remind G‑d of our original commitment and sincerity.

4. The Voice

Image Source: Zalman Kleiman
Image Source: Zalman Kleiman

The shofar reminds us of the voice of the prophets, who like the blast of the shofar called upon us to correct our ways, follow G‑d’s commandments, and act properly with others.

5. The Tears

Image Source: David Roberts/Wikicommons
Image Source: David Roberts/Wikicommons

The shofar’s cry reminds us of the cries and tears shed for the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, galvanizing us to bring Moshiach and hasten the rebuilding of the Temple.

6. The Sacrifice


The shofar, made of a ram’s horn, reminds us of the binding of Isaac and the ram G‑d provided as a sacrifice in his place. By blowing the shofar, we remember the faith of the Patriarchs and our own capacity for self-sacrifice.

7. The Awesome

Image Source: NASA/Wikimedia
Image Source: NASA/Wikimedia

The shofar fills us with awe and humility as we contemplate the true infinitude of G‑d, how He fills all space and time.

8. The Introspection

Image Source: WeHeartIt/Tumblr
Image Source: WeHeartIt/Tumblr

The shofar will be blown on the Day of Judgment when Moshiach comes. We thus blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah to remind us to examine our deeds and contemplate how we can improve them.

9. The Celebration

Image Source: Baruch Nachson
Image Source: Baruch Nachson

The shofar blast will signal the return of the Jewish people when Moshiach comes. We blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah to remind us of G‑d’s salvation in our own lives.

10. The Unity

Image Source: Michel Schwartz
Image Source: Michel Schwartz

The shofar blast when Moshiach comes will herald a time of universal understanding and recognition of G‑d’s unity. We blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah to remind us of G‑d’s unity.

11. The Scream

Image Source: Lucas Vieira Moreira
Image Source: Lucas Vieira Moreira

The call of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah reminds us of the primordial scream, the eternal voiceless call of the soul expressing its desire to return to its Creator.



Sources: This list is largely compiled from the writings of Rabbi Saadiah Gaon. Reason number 11 is derived from a parable taught by the Baal Shem Tov.

Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone is a rabbi by training, but a blogger by choice. He is passionate about using new media to further Jewish identity and community building. Mordechai currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and four sons, where he happily tweets between sips of espresso.
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MJ Martin Cheltenham, Glos, England October 1, 2016

As a Christian, I find this illuminating and helpful. Reply

Harris Rosenberg September 29, 2016

What about because Hashem tells us too? Reply

mike January 22, 2016

Stop with the pc G-d stuff! Reply

Lee Kushner Los Angeles September 16, 2015

Very poignant description and artwork....and it bespeaks of the universality of Jewish moral conscience, considering how many thousands of years this has been done. Reply

Hubert Jess Kaylor Missouri March 4, 2015

Today, NASA is confounded as to the sounds bombarding the earth from space. It sounds like the shofar, or voices to me. Also a very high pitch ringing or static squeal It has been documented in Europe, USA, as well as around the earth. It may be tied to CME`s and the Suns magnetic pulses. NASA launched a rocket W/ 10 Probes aboard to record these unusual sounds. God Bless Israel and her people .I will hide her,I will defend her, I will love her Reply

Anonymous September 27, 2014

Love the list of specific reasons and LOVE the art work! L'Shana Tova! Reply

lin saulsexton September 24, 2014

love it Reply

Linda Moffitt 6228 melvin ave Dayon Oh 45417 September 6, 2013

So much rich knowledge and gleanings! I want to share this site with everyone interested in understanding Jewish history and the Jewish roots of our faith! Thank you for allowing us this treasure. Reply

ruth housman marshfield, ma September 4, 2013

just wanted to add these illustrations and photos are beautiful. Reply

Anonymous Florida, September 4, 2013

This is beautiful. Loved it. Reply

Anonymous Miami September 4, 2013

Am original artistic offering. Follow your heart Mordechai. Reply

Rasha Gad Ayad Mekhail USA September 4, 2013

I am enjoying learning about my Jewish Roots. This article was written very well. I tend to think of the God of Jacob as a compassionate Husband/Father/God not just for Israel but the hidden Mystery of God is that He loves all His Creatures. We have been exiled too long on earth. The missing key or stamp is our call to God as one voice, saying we are sorry for our sins and we all want to come home. The problem has been division between humans. We need to go beyond personal examination of our deed/actions and see where our hearts stand with all humans. Can we forgive all our enemies, do we love everybody. Can we love others besides Jews, like Christian, Muslims, and all others. This is a great time to tell our God we understand what went wrong, love of self makes one forget God and others. I pray for the forgiveness of my sins and the sins of all Creation. The scream should be one of joy not fear, as we see the Light unveiled for all, ushering in our KING who will transform our world. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma September 3, 2013

I am reminded, by these words and pictures, of RAM, also meaning, Random Access Memory in computer language. The Ram is surely a symbol of power, and the call, powerful. We have ramparts, and ramifications. And more... Always more.

I found the primordial scream, and interesting way of picturing a yearning to return to the Source, in a deep way. I also am reminded that just yesterday, I commented on a friend's picture, his own rendition of Munch's The Scream, and of a coincidence I had regarding that very picture, which I have recorded, elsewhere.

There is a thread, a gold braid, that runs through it all, woven also with silver. Silver is for aged and aging also, and the wisdom of our elders, those who went before us, whose words are still extant, that do in many ways, teach us, a kind of revisioning, as we move forward, of our past. Reply

Anonymous Boston September 2, 2013

New subsciber...So glad friend made me aware of Chabad.org. Reply

zohar sasson September 2, 2013

my students will love this Ty!!! Reply

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