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The Cry of the Shofar: Two Parables

The Cry of the Shofar: Two Parables

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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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Anonymous São Paulo January 4, 2017

Berdichev The shofar is a last request. So can he postpone an execution or even nullify a Kareth? Reply

Eric Sander Kingston Beverly Hills, CA October 27, 2016

Remembering 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" Reply

Olga Rosanoff via coralspringschabad.org 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. Reply

Leah Engel Adelaide, South Australia 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! Reply

Jorge Munuzuri Queretaro, Qro. MEXICO 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 Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org Montreal, Quebec via jewishvirginislands.com 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. Reply

Erik miami, Fl via JewishVirginIslands.com September 24, 2011

Scripture 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. Reply

Zalmy Engel Adelaide, South Australia 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! Reply

Penelope Beer Cape Town, South Africa 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 Reply

Ian Jay Germaine Sugar Land, Texas 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. Reply

Anonymous Bella Vista, Ar September 8, 2010

We must live every day as if it's our last Reply

Robert Burdman Prescott, AZ United States September 6, 2010

Happy ending? Man is not allowed to know the day of his/her death. Perhaps it is G-d's way to remind us to live each day as if it were our last.
Ultimately all souls will return to the Source to be judged.
Here on this the lowest plane we only have the NOW to honor the King of the Universe with worthy deeds.
Shalom Reply

Chani Benjaminson, chabad.org September 21, 2009

Spelling of G-d Please see this link for a response to your question: Why Don't You Spell Out G-d's Name? Reply

CarolAnn New York, USA September 18, 2009

In your story Why do you use G-D instead of spelling out GOD?? Reply

Martin Raanana, Israel September 16, 2009

Analogies Why does this story have a happy ending when in fact we don't know who will live or die etc etc.

Confusing analogy! Reply

Sally Cohen October 1, 2008

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! This is perfect for my essay i really appreciate it!!! Reply

Dorice Yete Nairobi, Kenya September 30, 2008

The Shofar To me the shofar is the breathe of God on earth. His awesomeness! Reply

Anonymous September 28, 2008

2 parables thank you!
so simple, just what i needed! shana tova Reply

Trey Nevada, Mo September 22, 2006

The Shofar sends chills up and down my spine. When heard, it definately connects you to HaShem and makes you think all about Moshiach! Reply

Alexandra NYC September 7, 2005

To me, shofar sometimes sounds like Hashem's cry of pain caused by our misdeeds, like call for help from the Master of the burning palace. Reply

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