Letter: Sound of the Shofar

Letter to the Editor

The rituals of Judaism are deep with meaning. Metaphorically, every ritual has a “body” and a “soul.” The body is the act of the ritual. The soul is the meaning of the act.

Consider one of the most important rituals in Judaism – the sounding of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (this year, Sunday evening Sept. 13 through Tuesday evening Sept. 15). The ritual part  is performed by taking a hollowed horn of an animal, usually a ram, and sounding it with a particular rhythm in the midst of the Rosh Hashanah service. And then there is the “soul”the deeper meaning that makes the Shofar experience so powerful.

All sentient creatures are equipped with the ability to communicate, but humans communicate uniquely. We articulate our thoughts and feelings in detailed and nuanced speech. Yet, even so, a part of us communicates in ways that transcend words.

For example, when we laugh or cry, we are expressing ourselves beyond words. The point is that although our common form of expression is through words, there remains a part of us that cannot express itself in words alone.

Thus, the “soul” of the Shofar sounding lay within its simple, wordless cry. Its expression, its deep message, its call of awakening — all of this is beyond words. The Shofar’s simple sound resonates with the simplicity of our inner beings, our soul.

And there is a deep message in the way it is blown. We begin with a straight, uninterrupted sounding. This is a calling to the pure and simple nature of our soul.

Then we blow a series of intentionally broken-up sounds — a reminder of how we become broken when we complicate the simplicity and purity. The final, simple long sound is a calling for us to let go of our brokenness and return to the pure essence of our being so that we imbue our life in the coming year with our renewed soul.

As we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, we pray that the awakening to our higher and purer self will spread to all humanity. We pray that the deep calling to our inner light will penetrate beyond each individual to a pervasive consciousness.

You are welcome to join us at Chabad to hear the sound of the Shofar. For more information regarding the High Holidays visit jewishmalibu.com. 

R’ Levi Yitzchock Cunin