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Shana Tova! Praising God with the Sound of a Shofar

Raphael Poch : Sep 24, 2014  Breaking Israel News

The shofar is meant at its very core to spiritually awaken those who hear the sound and help them realize that they should be the ones weeping before God either in jubilation or in trepidation.

As we come to the period leading up to the High Holidays on the Jewish Calendar (Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement), Jews all over the world embrace the custom of blowing the shofar (Ram's Horn). Numerous times throughout the Bible do we see the Ram's horn brought into use and each time has a different purpose and symbolism.

The symbolism behind the shofar first appears during the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22:13.

"Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son."

It is interesting to note that the first time the Hebrew word for 'love' appears in the Bible is in relation to a father having to sacrifice his son who he loves (Genesis 22:2). The idea of sacrifice and love, and sacrificing for love, has been intertwined ever since.

The shofar is also used to herald God's presence, as it states in Exodus 19:16 when the Jewish Nation received the 10 Commandments:

"On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled."


Aside from awakening the nation, the shofar is also used to signal the start of the High Holidays for the Jewish nation (Leviticus 23:24, 25:9 and Numbers 29:1).

We see the shofar used as an instrument of spiritual warfare, as is evidenced in Numbers 10:9:

"And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies."

Aside from these purposes the shofar was used to sound alarms for the camp of Israel (Numbers 10:5-6, Ezekiel 33:3), to convene assemblies, announce the new moon and the Jubilee, herald messages and to coronate kings. The shofar was also used in the Temple service (2 Chronicles 15:14, Psalm 47:6, 89:16, 150:5) and when the Ark of the Covenant was returned to the Jewish Temple (1 Samuel 4:5, 2 Samuel 6:15).

But what is this instrument of many hats that is seemingly present in almost every Jewish public ceremony?

On the High Holidays it is Jewish belief that all of mankind comes before God for judgment and to be inscribed either in the 'book of life' or the 'book of death'. The shofar is meant at its very core to spiritually awaken those who hear the sound and help them realize that they should be the ones weeping before God either in jubilation or in trepidation.

Certainly this is a time for trepidation and introspection, and the shofar is sounded for a month leading up to the awe-filled day. During its sounding we try to incorporate in our thoughts all of the different elements that the shofar represents: love, sacrifice, the glory of God, Kingship, independence, freedom, worship, independence, existential threats, the conquering of enemies, and the thrill of victory together with the threat of defeat...

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