Three short Shofar lessons

The one who blows the shofar produces the sound from within his or her body. The force of the shofar is breath, in Hebrew, ruah – spirit. In order to create the sound properly one must bring one’s spirit to the world.

The second lesson is how one creates the sound. As Cynthia Ozick observed, the shofar has a broad end and a narrow end. If you begin by blowing in the broad end, you get nothing. But if you blow in the narrow end you get a sound everyone can hear. Judaism may seem like one small tradition in a large world. But Jews who have spoken from our tradition have been heard throughout the ages and throughout the world. By blowing in the narrow end, we offered a universal message.

Finally the mitzvah is not the blowing of the shofar, but hearing it. Each Jew is commanded to hear “kol shofar” — the voice of the shofar. The shofar is a lesson in listening. It rings throughout the ages, from our ancestors to us, from us to one another and to God. May the sounds of the shofar promise a year of healing and hope for Israel and for the world.

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.
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