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Moses appointed twelve emissaries to scout out the Holy Land and return with a report. The representative for the tribe of Ephraim was Moses’ primary disciple, Joshua. Until this time, the lad’s name was Oshua. But Moses added a letter to his name and called him Joshua.
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Home » Rosh Hashanah

Shofar and Rosh Hashanah

Submitted by on November 12, 2004 – 4:28 pmNo Comment | 2,906 views

Wake Up Call

The Shofar is our wake up call, it reminds us to turn to G-d. Throughout the long year Jews are caught in the stream of life, pressures and worldly considerations take their toll. We stray from the proper path leaning to the material rather then the spiritual, tending to our needs rather then G-d’s. The Shofar’s piercing call awakens us from our slumber and beckons us to return.

Our History

The Shofar is central to the Jewish experience, it was present at Mt Sinai when we received the torah and will be present at the Temple Mount when the Moshiach comes. These two episodes represent our past and our future. Indeed the Shofar’s call prompts us to remember the mandate of our past so that we can reap its benefits in our future.

Our Power

Dulled by the annual repetitiveness of this call a Jew may grow weary. He has resolved to change last year and the year before and the year before that. It never worked before why should it work today? We may deny our infinite capacity for change but our prosecutors remember it.

Our sages say that when we sound the Shofar the prosecuting angels recoil in dread because they fear that their efforts will be in vein. They know the power of the Shofar’s call to stir the Jewish soul and inspire repentance. They know that G-d treasures such repentance and will ban all prosecutors from the throne room. If our prosecutors fear our power then we ought to at least acknowledge it.

Our Charachter

The Shofar is made of a firm material namely, the ram’s horn. Though it is stiff and unbending it natural shape is rounded and inclined inwards. A Jew must follow the same model. We must be firm and unbending in our commitment yet soft and pliable in the inbound journey of repentance.

Our Ancestors

The Shofar also reminds us of the binding of Isaac. When Avraham was told to spare his son’s life he removed Isaac from the altar and looked for a substitute. He found it in the form of a ram that was stuck in the thicket with its antlers entangled in the low hanging branches. The Shofar is made of those antlers to remind us of our patriarchs’ dedication.

This Shofar’s message is twofold. On the one hand it calls to us and inspires repentance. On the other hand it reminds G-d of our pedigree. G-d, cries the Shofar,  remember who your children are, they come from good stock. Dedication to you runs in their blood, its part of their heritage handed down to them by their patriarchs and matriarchs.

Added to the merit of our patriarchs are the endless names of Jewish men and women who have given their lives in the sanctification of G-d’s name throughout the many generations of our difficult history.

On the days preceding Rosh Hashanah we plead with G-d to save us. If not in our own merit then in the merit of our patriarchs and matriarchs and if not in their merit then in the merit of all the righteous, pious and wholesome ones who have sanctified his name.

Final thoughts

All this and more is wrapped up in the plaintive call of the Shofar. Its trumpet is humble, its call is simple, yet it speaks with a force that demands attention.

Its call begins thirty days before Rosh Hashanah, every day we hear it, every day we are stirred. By the time we reach the New Year we are primed and ready to respond. We vow to make a greater effort, to grow in our commitment and in our dedication. In turn G-d showers us with his smile and blessing.

Shanah Tovah.