– Author: Rav Avichai Eitam

In this short essay, we will try and raise a few points to ponder regarding the mitzvah of the shofar; that will enable us to deepen our understanding of this important mitzvah which stands at the center of this holy day of Rosh Hashana.

The gemara states[1]

” אמר רבה, אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא: אמרו לפני בראש השנה מלכיות זכרונות ושופרות. מלכיות – כדי שתמליכוני עליכם, זכרונות – כדי שיבא לפני זכרוניכם לטובה, ובמה – בשופר Rabba says: G-d said “say before me on Rosh Hashana Malchuyot –Kingship, Zichronot – Remebrances, and Shofarot. Kingship – so that you should crown me over you. Remebrances – in order that I should recall your good deeds. And how should this be done – through the Shofar.

Why is it, that recalling the remembrance’s and the coronation of G-d are dependent on the shofar?

Furthermore, the gemara[2] tells us that

אמר רבי אבהו: למה תוקעין בשופר של איל? – אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא: תקעו לפני בשופר של איל, כדי שאזכור לכם עקידת יצחק בן אברהם, ומעלה אני עליכם כאילו עקדתם עצמכם לפני…למה תוקעין ומריעין כשהן יושבין, ותוקעין ומריעין כשהן עומדין? כדי לערבב השטן. Rabi Avhu said: why do we blow the horn of a ram? –The Holy One blessed be He said- blow before me with a  rams horn in order that I should be reminded of the binding of Yitzchak the son of Avraham, and I will view it as if you have bound yourselves before me…. Why do we blow when standing and sitting? In order to confuse the Satan

Why is it so critical that G-d remembers Akeidat Yitzchak, more than any other righteous act? Finally, what is this concept of confusing the Satan?

The shofar blast comes to shake up and arouse a person.

“בן אדם מה לך נרדם קום קרא בתחנונים Son of man[3], why are you sleeping – awake and cry out

This is not trying to awaken a person from physical sleep, rather a stirring of one’s spiritual slumber. It is trying to arouse us from apathy caused by the constant travails of everyday life; and from life’s perversions that he has been seduced by and cannot seem to break free of.

“אם יתקע בשופר בעיר והעם לא יחרדו?” If [4]one blows the shofar in the city – will the nation not be terrified?

There is a certain power of the shofar that is able to penetrate to the core of a person. The shofar is a universal instrument that in the ancient times was used by all different armies as a call to battle. It was intended to arouse the inner core of the warriors; the characteristic of cruelty with no mercy, a thirst for blood.

The Torah also uses the shofar to arouse a deep inner calling. When we sacrifice the Korbanot the shofar is blown, not to arouse the trait of cruelty G-d forbid. Rather to arouse a deeper calling in our souls- of mercy, a desire to come close to G-d, of Teshuva.

When the shofar is blown the Satan is confused. The Satan that the gemara is referring to, is our inner calling to run after our physical desires and act inappropriately. The Satan is confused for He thinks that the call of the shofar will invoke these carnal desires and he will go from being a little rasha to a big rasha. However the sins that we commit, and even the carnal desires that we have, are not our essence. Our inner core is pure[5].the entire jewish people are righteous[6].What confuses the Satan is that the shofar does arouse the carnal desires – but something much deeper; the purity of the soul that has been hidden so deep that even the Satan could not find it.

This also answers why we are specifically trying to arouse the memory of Akeidat Yitzchak. The Akeida represents the deepest and most sincere desire of Avraham Avinu – who was prepared to sacrifice everything for G-d. Even though the angels felt that Avraham Avinu wasn’t worthy – Hashem proved with the Akeida that Avraham’s real essence is so much more pure and holy than the angels could understand.

The Akeida also focuses on our willingness to serve Hashem and not necessarily the actions themselves. We have all sinned and done things that we are embarrassed about. Yet our essence has not been tainted, and remains pure. The mitzvah to die al kidush Hashem is not meant to be realized; (There is no mitzvah to place ourselves in a situation where we will have to act on this mitzvah) but we are all meant to ready ourselves and be willing.

We can now also understand why the shofar is the way in which we crown Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

כי האדם יראה לעינים וה’ יראה ללבב For man[7] looks to the eyes, yet G-d sees the heart

G-d listens to the heart, is able to see the essence of a person and cut through all the external facades and external barriers. In order to crown such a King, one needs a nation whose essence is pure, and understands the secret of the shofar, for there is no King without a nation.

[1] תלמוד בבלי מסכת ראש השנה דף לד עמוד ב

[2] תלמוד בבלי מסכת ראש השנה דף טז עמוד א

[3] יונה א .ו

[4] עמןס ג.ו

[5] מתוך סידור התפילה- “אלוהי נשמה שנתת בי טהורה היא”

[6] ישעיהו פרק ס -” וְעַמֵּךְ כֻּלָּם צַדִּיקִים לְעוֹלָם יִירְשׁוּ אָרֶץ נֵצֶר מַטָּעַי מַעֲשֵׂה יָדַי לְהִתְפָּאֵר ”

[7] שמואל טז.ז

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