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Tuesday, Elul 10, 5779 / September 10, 2019


Every Holiday has its unique mitzvah. The special mitzvah on Rosh Hashana is the blowing of the shofar.  It is preferable that the shofar be made of a ram’s horn.


Q.  What is the reason for blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana?


A.One reason is to recall the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Torah tells us that at the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, there was thunder and lighting and the sound of the Shofar.


Q.What connection does the Giving of the Torah have with Rosh Hashana - the day of judgment?


A.  Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Barditchev gives the following parable:  A king became lost in a forest.  He wandered deeper and deeper in the woods, until he lost all hope of ever seeing his beautiful palace again.  One day, he suddenly met a man who knew the way out of the forest and who helped him back to his kingdom and palace.


The king rewarded the man very generously and made him one of his closest friends. One day, the man sinned against the king.  Knowing that he was about to be severely punished, the man asked of the king to grant him one wish--that he be allowed to wear the same clothes that he wore when he saved the king.  The king agreed.  As soon as the king looked at him, he remembered how the man saved his life.  Immediately, this invoked feelings of affection by the king and he forgave the sinner and restored him to his position.


The same is with the Jewish people, when they stand before G-d in judgment on Rosh Hashana.  When G-d wanted to give the Torah He approached many nations, but no other nation was willing to accept the restrictions and responsibility of the Torah and mitzvot.  Only the Jewish people accepted the Torah and crowned G-d as their king.  Sounding the Shofar on Rosh Hashana recalls the Giving of the Torah when the Jewish people were there for G-d. So too, we pray that G-d remember our merit and be merciful upon us to grant us a happy and healthy New Year.


Q.   Why is a ram’s horn used for the Shofar?


A.  Another reason for the sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashana is to recall the merit of our patriarch Abraham who passed his tenth test when he was ready to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on the altar. In the end G-d told him it was only a test and he sacrificed a ram instead. 


On Rosh Hashana, the day of judgment, we need as many merits as possible to invoke G-d’s mercy on His children. By sounding the Shofar made of a ram, we recall Abraham and Isaac’s merit for their total dedication to G-d’s commandments. We pray that in their merit, G-d will grant us, their descendants, a good, healthy and sweet year.