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The Cry of the Shofar: Two Parables

The Cry of the Shofar: Two Parables


A parable from Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov:

A King had an only son, the apple of his eye. The King wanted his son to master different fields of knowledge and to experience various cultures, so he sent him to a far-off country, supplied with a generous quantity of silver and gold. Far away from home, the son squandered all the money until he was left completely destitute. In his distress he resolved to return to his father's house and after much difficulty, he managed to arrive at the gate of the courtyard to his father's palace.

In the passage of time, he had actually forgotten the language of his native country, and he was unable to identify himself to the guards. In utter despair he began to cry out in a loud voice, and the King, who recognized the voice of his son, went out to him and brought him into the house, kissing him and hugging him.

The meaning of the parable: The King is G‑d. The prince is the Jewish people, who are called "Children of G‑d" (Deuteronomy 14:1). The King sends a soul down to this world in order to fulfill the Torah and mitzvot. However, the soul becomes very distant and forgets everything to which it was accustomed to above, and in the long exile it forgets even its own "language." So it utters a simple cry to its Father in Heaven. This is the blowing of the shofar, a cry from deep within, expressing regret for the past and determination for the future. This cry elicits G‑d’s mercies, and He demonstrates His abiding affection for His child and forgives him.

A parable from Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev:

A king was once traveling in the forest and lost his way, until he met a man who recognized that he was the king and escorted his master out of the forest and back to his palace. The king later rewarded him with many presents, and elevated him to a powerful minister's post.

After a while, however, the man committed an act which was considered rebellious against the king, and he was sentenced to death. Before he was taken out to be executed, the king granted him one last request.

The man said: “I request to wear the clothes I wore when I escorted His Majesty when he was lost in the forest, and that His Majesty should also wear the clothes he wore then.”

The king complied, and when they were both dressed in the garments they wore at the time of their meeting, he said, “By your life, you have saved yourself,” and called off the execution.

The meaning of the parable is that when G‑d gave the Torah to Israel, he offered it first to all the nations of the world. They all refused, except the people of Israel, who willingly accepted the yoke of Heaven and fulfilled the commandments of the Creator.

But now we have transgressed and rebelled, like the man in the parable, and with the arrival of the Day of Judgment we are fearful indeed. So we blow the shofar to recall the shofar blowing that accompanied our original acceptance of the Torah and coronation of G‑d. This merit stands by us, and G‑d forgives us all our sins and inscribes us immediately for a year of goodness and life.

Excerpted from Days Of Awe, Days Of Joy by Rabbi Eli Friedman, published by Kehot Publication Society
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Discussion (20)
January 4, 2017
The shofar is a last request. So can he postpone an execution or even nullify a Kareth?
São Paulo
October 27, 2016
The parable from Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev is also a reminder, a Teshuva, to return to our purity and robe ourselves in our humbleness that we should remember. It is also a plea to G-d, as Moses plead for us in the desert, to be remembered as we once were and will be again!

"i am remembrance, forsake me not, "for it is the doom of men that they forget." from my Holocaust work "i am remembrance"
Eric Sander Kingston
Beverly Hills, CA
September 23, 2014
I enjoyed reading this truthful parables. In time that every soul needs during
The High Holidays. Thank you for showing to us. L'shana Tovah to all the congregation of Chabad of Coral Springs, and my children.
Olga Rosanoff
September 2, 2013
Rosh Hashanah
I really, really, love it! My father told me to read some stories about Rosh Hashanah, and this one is great!
Leah Engel
Adelaide, South Australia
September 29, 2011
Rosh Hashanah
Today is Rosh Hashanah may G-d grant us a new year with all our sins forgiven and have us inscribed for a year of goodness and life
Jorge Munuzuri
Queretaro, Qro. MEXICO
September 25, 2011
RE: Scripture
This tradition is found in the Sifri (Midrashic companion text) to Deuteronomy 33:2. In fact it is alluded to in the verse, where we read that "G-d came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes." The fact that so many other locations and nations are mentioned with Sinai is a reflection of G-d's having offered his covenant to them before finally coming to Sinai and giving the Torah to Israel.
Menachem Posner for
Montreal, Quebec
September 24, 2011
G-d gave the Torah to Israel,he offered it first to all the nations of the world. They all refused, except the people of Israel. Where is this in scripture? Please explain. I see truth mixed with opinions and interpretations a lot. Thank you.
miami, Fl
September 18, 2011
2 Rosh Hashanah Parables
Thanks a lot! My father told me to read some stories about Rosh Hashanah, and I think that these parables are really nice!
Zalmy Engel
Adelaide, South Australia
September 11, 2011
2 parables
G-D in His great wisdom gives us so many chances and yet we will still carry on untill we have forgotten the presance of G-D but He never forgets us and all it takes is a cry to the Father ... How awesome is He
Penelope Beer
Cape Town, South Africa
August 19, 2011
The Beacon of the Shofar
Many think that the sound of the Shofar is piercing and harsh. But for me it's really is a beacon to return home for the warmth of my real home. By the time I arrive I will have forgotten why I ever left.
Ian Jay Germaine
Sugar Land, Texas