Many lessons have been derived from the shofar which we blast on Rosh Hashanah. Permit me to add one more. According to halachah there is no limit to how big the shofar may be. In fact, in the Musaf prayers we will quote the prophet Isaiah who says, “And it shall be on that day yitaka bashofar gadol — a big shofar shall be sounded.” How big is big I do not know, but most probably it is bigger than the biggest shofar we have seen in the stores or in pictures.

There is, however, a minimum size for a shofar. The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 27b) and the Rav in Shulchan Aruch (586:13) say that it must be at least one tefach, which is equal to the width of four thumbs, so that when one grasps a tefach-long shofar with the four fingers in the palm of his hand, the shofar would be visible on either side of the hand.

The significance of this requirement may be the following. We use the shofar to make noise to alarm or to call to attention. The hand represents action. Many people are noisemakers or big talkers, but they are deficient when it comes to doing. The message of the shofar is that noise alone is not sufficient: people have to be able to see that what you speak of can also be seen through your hand. In other words, practice what you preach.

In a certain city there once lived two brothers by the name Schapiro. One was the town’s rabbi, and the other the town’s doctor. One day an elderly woman was not feeling well. She dialed the telephone and politely asked, “Is this my good friend, Dr. Schapiro?” The response came from the other side, “Sorry Ma’am, I am the one who preaches. My brother is the one who practices.”

Hashem told the prophet Isaiah, “Kashofar hareim kolecha” — “Raise your voice like a shofar” (58:2). In light of the above, it can be said that Hashem’s message was that whenever one raises his voice, whenever one preaches, whenever one lectures and makes demands, let your voice be like a shofar. Just as a shofar has to be seen through your hand, likewise, practice what you preach and be a living example to those who you want to inspire.