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Why We Blow a Shofar on Rosh Hashanah: A Personal Response

Why We Blow a Shofar on Rosh Hashanah: A Personal Response

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Ever notice that some people bring out the best in you? You are more kind, caring and patient in their presence, and it’s even reflected in your conversations.

Then there are others who bring out the worst in us. In their presence, our words reveal anger, restlessness and other unfavorable traits.

When we interact with a child, we reach deep inside of ourselves to rediscover our own inner child, and our words are full of wonder and spontaneity. When interacting with an intellectual, we express our more cerebral side—our questioning, even cynicism. In shared intimate moments with our spouse, our words reflect softer sentimentality, warmth and love.

In every situation, our words become tailored to the individuals with whom we are conversing; it reflects our relationship with them.

On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate our connection to G‑d. We coronate G‑d as our King and ask Him to renew His relationship with us. We depend on G‑d as Creator and sustainer, and G‑d depends on each of us, individually, to use our unique talents and personalities to make His presence felt in this world.

So what should our conversations with G‑d sound like?

The prayers throughout the Rosh Hashanah services express many words and emotions, but the central observance of this holiday is the sounding of a shofar, a ram’s horn. It is blown in a series of longer and shorter blasts, and it reminds us of many things, including:

  • the coronation ceremony of a king or official.
  • a baby’s cries.
  • the blast of triumph and conquest.
  • the gasps of breath during a hysterical outburst.
  • the boom of victory.
  • the hiccups after a long cry.
  • a great laugh.
  • the clamor of broken-hearted repentance.

Prayers, too, can be tailored to particular thoughts, emotions and circumstances.

In contrast, the shofar blasts are general and universal. Its sounds synthesize opposites and contrasts, sadness and happiness, triumph and despair, victory and defeat, laughter and tears. It encompasses all the raw notes of our being, harmonizing all aspects of our personality, unifying the many diverse moments and encounters of our lives.

On Rosh Hashanah, as we work on forging a closer bond with our Creator, we realize that our lives will span times of delight and desolation, moments of anguish and anger. The raw sound of the shofar doesn’t represent a particular word, person or trait. It doesn’t represent a specific time or circumstance. It doesn’t even represent a precise conversation or prayer.

Rather, it represents all of these: each and every one of us, with all aspects of our personalities, throughout all of our life’s circumstances, calling out to our Creator.

Because our relationship with G‑d is so raw, so personal and so completely all-encompassing.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Carol.................. September 27, 2016

Thank you for a well thought out "editorial". Your sentiments "say it all".
I do enjoy the very well written and interesting perspectives all of you put forth to make this blog both interesting and worthwhile. Reply

Doyala Hayes Cleveland, TN September 26, 2016

Great article!!!! Reply

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