The shofar is main symbol of Rosh Hashanah. Is it just a
primitive trumpet? Or is there a much greater story to be told?
During the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah,
notice there are three distinct sounds:
Tekiah -- one long, straight blast
Shevarim -- three medium, wailing sounds
Teruah -- 9 quick blasts in short succession
Let's examine each of these shofar sounds, and see how
they relate to the different themes of Rosh Hashanah.
THE TEKIAH SOUND
Rosh Hashanah is the day of appreciating who YAHUVEH is. We
then internalize that understanding so that it becomes a living, practical part
of our everyday reality. YAHUVEH is all-powerful. YAHUVEH is the Creator. YAHUVEH is the
Sustainer. YAHUVEH is the Supervisor. In short, YAHUVEH is King of the Universe.
But for many of us, the idea of a "king"
conjures up images of a greedy and power hungry despot who wants to subjugate
the masses for his selfish aims.
In Jewish tradition, a king is first and foremost a
servant of the people. His only concern is that the people live in happiness and
harmony. His decrees and laws are only for the good of the people, not for
himself. (see Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6)
The object of Rosh Hashanah is to crown YAHUVEH as our King.
Tekiah -- the long, straight shofar blast -- is the sound of the King's
coronation. In the Garden of Eden, Adam's first act was to proclaim YAHUVEH as King.
And now, the shofar proclaims to ourselves and to the world: YAHUVEH is our King. We
set our values straight and return to the reality of YAHUVEH as the One Who runs the
world... guiding history, moving mountains, and caring for each and every human
being individually and personally.
Maimonides adds one important qualification: It isn't
enough that YAHUVEH is MY King alone. If ALL humanity doesn't recognize YAHUVEH as King,
then there is something lacking in my own relationship with YAHUVEH. Part of my love
for the Almighty is to help guide all people to an appreciation of Him. Of
course this is largely an expression of my deep caring for others. But it also
affects my own sense of YAHUVEH's all-encompassing Kingship.
THE SHEVARIM SOUND
When we think about the year gone by, we know deep down
that we've failed to live up to our full potential. In the coming year, we yearn
not to waste that opportunity ever again. The Kabbalists say that Shevarim --
three medium, wailing blasts -- is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart -- yearning
to connect, to grow, to achieve.
Every person has the ability to change and be great.
This can be accomplished much faster than you ever dreamed of. The key is to
pray from the bottom of your heart and ask YAHUVEH for the ability to become great.
Don't let yourself be constrained by the past. You know you have enormous
At the moment the shofar is blown, we cry out to YAHUVEH
from the depths of our soul. This is the moment -- when our souls stand before
the Almighty without any barriers -- that we can truly let go.
THE TERUAH SOUND
On Rosh Hashanah, we need to wake up and be honest and
objective about our lives: Who we are, where we've been, and which direction
we're headed. The Teruah sound -- 9 quick blasts in short succession --
resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar
brings clarity, alertness, and focus.
The Talmud says: "When there's judgement from
below, there's no need for judgement from above." What this means is that
if we take the time to construct a sincere, realistic model of how we've fallen
short in the past, and what we expect to change in the future, then God doesn't
need to "wake us up" to what we already know.
YAHUVEH wants us to make an honest effort to maximize the
gifts He gave us. You aren't expected to be anything you're not. But you can't
hoodwink YAHUVEH, either.
The reason we lose touch and make mistakes is because
we don't take the time everyday to reconnect with our deepest desires and
essence. The solution is to spend time alone everyday, asking: Am I on track? Am
I focused? Am I pursuing goals which will make the greatest overall difference
in my life and in the world?
Make it a habit to keep in touch with yourself, and
when Rosh Hashanah comes around, the alarm clock of the shofar won't be nearly as