After reading the Torah (on both days of Rosh Hashanah, except for when it is also Shabbat), the most solemn moment arrives-the shofar is about to be sounded!

The 'shofar blower' dressed in his kittel, a white robe symbolizing purity, is getting ready to sound the shofar. For a little while there is silence in the crowded shul whilst everybody is preoccupied with himself, as this is a most suitable moment for self-examination and final repentance.

Many thoughts flash through our mind about the significance of the sounding of the shofar: Of course, it's a commandment like any other commandment of the Torah, but it drives home many important messages to us:

To begin with, it is like the sound of the bugle, or "Reveille," rousing the sleeping soldiers to their duties. The shofar calls unto us: "Wake up! Wake up! There's work to be done! You have been lulled into mental lethargy by unimportant earthly things; you have neglected your spiritual needs! Wake up now! Give your soul a chance, too! "

The sound of the shofar is an "alert," as our prophet Amos says: "Shall the Shofar be sounded in the city and the people not tremble?" The sound of the Shofar inspires us with awe, for it reminds us that it is a Day of judgment.

The broken sounds of the shevarim and teruah are like stifled sobs and groans, piercing the heart; they break the heart with remorse for our past failings....

The Tekiah Gedolah —the last long blast of the shofar - strikes a more cheerful note, however, for it reminds us of That Great Day when the Great Shofar will be sounded to gather all the exiles of our people Israel, like a shepherd gathering in his flocks, and when with our Righteous Messiah at our head, we will return to the Land of Israel…

From our reflections on the sound of the shofar we pass on to think of the shofar itself. The shofar is a ram's horn. It reminds us of the Ram that was sacrificed by Abraham in Isaac's place. The story of the akedah (the binding of Isaac) which we read on the second day of Rosh Hashanah comes back to our mind with its full force.

We are proud of being the children of Abraham and Isaac, and to have inherited some of their undaunted loyalty and devotion to G‑d. G‑d couldn't be very angry with the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who, in their time, were the first and only ones to proclaim G‑d's name to the world!

The more we think of our great ancestors, the more we feel inspired by their great deeds. We realize that true devotion to our Torah and our G‑d means being prepared to make sacrifices, and being absolutely selfless. We know that thousands, nay, millions of our brethren have faced death with undaunted courage for the sanctification of G‑d's Name, like Abraham and Isaac. How far would we go?