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What is the significance of the different notes of the shofar?

by Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman

  

Library » Holidays » Rosh Hashanah » Shofar | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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There are three basic sounds of the Shofartekiah, shevarim and teruah.

In the Torah, Rosh Hashanah is actually called “Yom Teruah,” The Day of Teruah. The Sages in the Talmud agreed that the teruah connotes the blast of a horn which resembles crying, but were uncertain whether it is to be melancholy moaning or a more uncontrolled staccato sound. Therefore, both possibilities are honored and today we sound the shevarim, which is akin to sighing and has three medium length sounds, the teruah, which connotes uncontrollable crying comprised of nine short sounds, and the shevarim-teruah, a combination of the two.

Preceding and following each of these sounds is the tekiah – a long simple blast – which alludes to many things: a summons to gather together, a wake up call, a way to greet the king, as well as a sound of joy and rejoicing.

One notices a certain inconsistency between the different crying sounds of the teruah and shevarim and the more uplifting, joyful sounds of the tekiah. This paradox reflects equally important aspects of Rosh Hashanah. On one hand it is a very joyful day when through our heartfelt prayers we praise G-d and crown Him King of the universe. It is also a day to begin again, full of hope and anticipation of a year of blessing. Yet it is also a very serious, reflective day when all souls are judged by G-d and our lives and future are on the line. 

Therefore, the arrangement of the shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah reflect this reality. It is taught that there is no vessel as whole as a broken heart. Rosh Hashanah is the time to open our hearts and express our desire to rectify our lives and be close to G-d. These heartfelt emotions are surrounded by the tekiah and the hope, trust and joy it represents.


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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
Shofar
The horn of a Kosher animal. The Shofar is sounded on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and is intended to awaken us to repentance. Also blown to signify the conclusion of the Yom Kippur holiday.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.