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Wednesday, Elul 11 5782 / September 7, 2022


Each of the Jewish holidays has a special mitzvah connected with that particular holiday.


On Passover we eat matzah, maror and drink the four cups of wine.  In the days of the Holy Temple we also brought the Passover offering, which was eaten at the Seder.  During the holiday of Sukkot we eat in the Sukkah and perform the mitzvah of reciting a blessing over the four species. 


On Rosh Hashana we perform the special mitzvah of blowing the Shofar. 


As with many of the other mitzvot which the Torah commands us to perform, the Torah did not tell us the reason for blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana.  Yet, the rabbis have related various explanations for this special mitzvah and its connection to Rosh Hashana.  Here are some of them:


* Rosh Hashana is the Day of Judgment.  The sound of the Shofar on the Day of Judgment serves as a call to repent and return to G-d.


* Rosh Hashana is the day when we crown G-d as the King of the universe.  At the coronation of a king, it was customary to blow trumpets. The Shofar on Rosh Hashana proclaims G-d’s Kingship.


* The sound of the Shofar reminds us of the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, which was accompanied by thunder, lightning, and the sound of the Shofar (Exodus 20:15).  Sounding the Shofar on Rosh Hashana reminds us to observe the Torah and adhere to its mitzvot.


* The Shofar is made from the horn of a ram.  Sounding the Shofar on Rosh Hashana recalls the ram which was sacrificed in place of our forefather Isaac.  Abraham withstood the greatest of all tests. The sounding of the Shofar is our prayer that G-d should consider, on this day of judgment, Abraham’s merit and his complete faith in G-d, by his willingness to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. 


With the blowing of the Shofar we pray that in the merit of Abraham and Isaac, G-d will grant us, their descendants, a good and sweet year.


* The Shofar is also a sound of hope.  It reminds us of the ultimate redemption, with the coming of Moshiach whose arrival will be announced with the sound of the Shofar.


Q.  In Hebrew, a horn is called “keren.”  Why is the ram's horn, which we blow on Rosh Hashana called "Shofar?"  


A.  "Shofar" comes from the same root as "Shapru" which means to "make better" and "beautify."  The sound of the Shofar is a call which reminds us to "better and beautify" our deeds in the coming year.