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Why Do We Blow Shofar at the End of Neilah After Yom Kippur?

Why Do We Blow Shofar at the End of Neilah After Yom Kippur?

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The blowing of the shofar at the conclusion of Yom Kippur is the culmination of a day spent fasting and praying for a sweet new year. There are a number of reasons given for blowing the shofar at this time. Here are some of them:

Commemorating the Jubilee

Back in Temple times, they would blow the shofar on the Yom Kippur that ushered in the Jubilee (fiftieth) year.1 That shofar blast would signal that all slaves were free to go, and all properties would return to their original owners.2 Now there is no Jubilee, but we still blow the shofar every Yom Kippur to commemorate what once was, and to express our hopes for the future.

Additionally, the shofar blast signifies that now, at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, our souls are “freed” from their sins.3

Victory and Confusion

By the time Yom Kippur draws to a close, we are certain that we’ve been granted a sweet year. Like soldiers returning triumphant in battle, we blow the shofar to celebrate our victory over the prosecuting angel, a.k.a. the Satan. This blowing of the shofar has the added value that it “confounds” the Satan as he prepares to resume his “regular job,” since it sounds uncannily similar to the great shofar that will herald the final redemption and put him “out of business” for good.4

The Ascension of the Divine Presence

When G‑d gave us the Torah, His divine presence rested upon the mountain. Afterward, a shofar blast heralded the ascent of the divine presence, the Shechinah. This is reflected in the verse in Psalms that states, “G‑d ascends with a teruah [sound of the shofar].”5 Similarly, following the closeness with G‑d we’ve experienced over Yom Kippur, the shofar blast symbolizes the ascent of the divine presence, which has rested upon us throughout the day.6

Time to Celebrate the Holiday

It’s been an otherworldly experience, and now we’ve come out the other end. The blowing of the shofar publicizes to all that the evening following Yom Kippur is a holiday, and it is now time to celebrate the closeness we’ve achieved and the forgiveness we’ve secured during this awesome day. Indeed, it is a widespread custom to wish people “Good Yom Tov” (“Happy Holiday”) following Yom Kippur for this very reason.7

May we all be sealed for a sweet new year!

Footnotes
2.
Geonim quoted in the Mordechai on Talmud, Yoma, remez 723.
3.
Levush, Orach Chaim 623:5.
4.
Levush ibid.
6.
Semag, negative commandment 69.
7.
Tosafot on Talmud, Shabbat 114b; Semag ibid. See also Shulchan Aruch Harav 623:12.
Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin responds to questions for Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi service.
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Joseph USA September 23, 2015

Tekiah Gedolah I would like to understand more on Tekiah Gedolah. Is this also called the "last trump of G-d"? Reply

Marjorie long island September 22, 2015

Happiness, Health & Love I wish everyone a very happy and healthy new year and we be grateful for all the good things we have including our wonderful family and friends. Be happy every day and be thankful. Happy new year to all. Reply

Casper September 18, 2015

Indeed Yay! Reply

suzy handler woodland hills, ca September 18, 2015

the shofar It's the most beautiful sound in the world. I often wonder if this sound was heard
at Creation. Reply

Gabi Johannesburg September 28, 2017
in response to suzy handler:

There is a wonderful shiur by Rabbi Mendel Kaplan (here on chabad.org) where he explains that the sound of the Shofar is actually the sound of creation. Reply

David Maalot, Israel September 17, 2015

Shofar at end of Yom Kippur signals complete repentence Our sages ask why are the first two of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy both the Tetragrammaton, the Name of G-d. They answer that first is before man sins, while the second is after he has sinned and done repentance. And in the middle, is the Divine Justice. Note that G-d's relationship with us is fully repaired when we do a complete teshuva, or repentance.

We represent this through the shofar blowing which is a series of three blasts, the first of which is whole (before we sinned), the second is broken (when we have sinned, but not repented), and the third is whole (after we have repented). When we blow the shofar, we remind ourselves that we need not despair over our shortcomings and that we can fully repair of relationship with G-d.

At the conclusion of Yom Kippur, after 40 days of working on repentence, similar to Moses who returned after 40 days with the second set of tablets, we show our desire for a complete repentence by blowing a Tekiah Gedolah, a long whole blast. Reply

Susan Canada September 25, 2017
in response to David:

This is awesome information David, thank you! Reply

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