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Sounds that Pierce the Skies

The main mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah is to blow the shofar. In the Torah, the holiday is not called Rosh Hashanah but “Yom Teruah”—the day the shofar is blown.

On Rosh Hashanah we accept upon ourselves G-d’s kingship. In all the prayers of the holiday we request of Him to reign over the world and to reveal His glory to us. Blowing the shofar expresses our coronation of G-d as king.

It also expresses the inner cry of our soul, a pure, wordless cry that comes from the innermost part of our heart. It reaches the heavenly throne and draws down blessing for the coming year.

The shofar is a symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. Abraham bound his son Isaac on an altar and was about to offer him to G-d when G-d called out, Do not stretch out your hand to the lad. Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes, and he brought the ram as an offering in place of his son. We blow a rams horn on Rosh Hashanah to commemorate Abraham’s sacrifice.

The Shofar also invokes the time we stood at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, when we heard a “very strong sound of the shofar.” The shofar sounds also express our hope for the true and complete Redemption, as the verse states, “On that day a great shofar will sound, and the lost ones will come from the land of Ashur and the dispersed ones from the land of Egypt, and they will bow to G-d on the holy mountain, in Jerusalem.”
 

 


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