Symbolism of the Shofar – aish.com
During the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, notice that there are three distinct sounds:
- Tekiah – a long and straight stroke
- Shevarim – three medium moaning sounds
- Teruah – 9 quick hits in short succession
Listen to the sounds of the shofar
Let’s take a look at each of these shofar sounds and see how they relate to the different themes of Rosh Hashanah.
THE TEKIAH HIS
Rosh Hashanah is the day of appreciating who God is. We then internalize this understanding so that it becomes a living and practical part of our daily reality. God is almighty. God is the Creator. God is the Provider. God is the Overseer. In short, God is the king of the universe.
But for many of us, the idea of a “king” conjures up images of a greedy, power-hungry despot who wants to subjugate the masses for his selfish goals.
In the Jewish tradition, a king is above all a servant of the people. His only concern is that people live in happiness and harmony. His decrees and laws are only for the good of the people, not for himself. (see Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6)
The object of Rosh Hashanah is to crown God as our King. Tekiah – the long, straight sound of the shofar – is the sound of the king’s coronation (Malbim – Numbers 10:2). In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s first act was to proclaim God as king. And now the shofar proclaims to ourselves and to the world: God is our King. We are putting our values back in place and coming back to the reality of God as the One who rules the world…guiding history, moving mountains and caring for each human being individually and personally.
Maimonides adds an important qualification: It is not enough that God is MY only King. If ALL of humanity does not recognize God as King, then something is missing in my own relationship with God. Part of my love for the Almighty is to help guide all people to an appreciation of Him. Of course, this is largely an expression of my deep concern for others. But it also affects my own sense of the universal kingship of God.
THE SHEVARIM HIS
When we think about the past year, we know deep down that we haven’t reached our full potential. In the coming year, we aspire to never waste this opportunity again. Kabbalists say that Shevarim – three medium, moaning explosions – is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart – yearning to connect, to grow, to succeed. (Tikunei Zohar – 20-21, 49a)
Every person has the ability to change and be awesome. It can be accomplished much faster than you ever dreamed. The key is to pray from the bottom of your heart and ask God for the ability to become great. Don’t be constrained by the past. You know you have enormous potential.
As the shofar sounds, we cry out to God from the depths of our soul. It is the moment – when our souls stand before the Almighty without any barriers – that we can truly let go.
THE TERUAH HIS
On Rosh Hashana, we need to wake up and be honest and objective about our lives: who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re headed. the Teruah sound – 9 rapid beats in short succession – sounds like an alarm clock, awakening us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness and concentration. (Malbim–Yoel 2:1)
The Talmud says, “When there is judgment from below, there is no need for judgment from above. This means that if we take the time to build a sincere and realistic model of how we have failed in the past and what we hope to change in the future, then God does not need to “wake us up”. what we already know.
God wants us to make an honest effort to maximize the gifts He has given us. You are not expected to be something that you are not. But you can’t cheat God either.
The reason we lose touch and make mistakes is because we don’t take the time each day to reconnect with our deepest desires and essence. The solution is to spend time alone every day, asking yourself: Am I on the right track? Am I focused? Am I pursuing goals that will make the biggest overall difference in my life and in the world? (See personal growth worksheets)
Get into the habit of staying in touch with yourself, and when Rosh Hashana arrives, the shofar awakening won’t be so jarring!