The Secret of the Shofar


For the past 3,000 Years, Jews, around the world, blow the shofar to celebrate the coming of the new year. The shofar, the simplest and most ancient musical instrument, made of a ram horn, produces the most basic sounds emanating from the beginning of time. During the blowing of the shofar in synagogues, the mood is not quite the "Happy New Year" mood that you would expect but a dramatic and tense moment.

The Arizal, father of contemporary Kabbalah, unveiled the secret of the Shofar and explained the significance of its blast. After another a long year of sins, missed opportunities and deceptions, God loses interest in humanity. He then enters a state of "Dormita", a state of sleeping and disconnection from our world. Can we blame him?

The Jewish year 5776, which will be ending on Oct 2nd at sunset, has been a tough year for him. Many of his beloved creatures have been brutally killed in Aleppo, Istanbul, Paris, Nice, Tel Aviv and San Bernardino in honor of his name and his greatness. His name has been used in vain in order to commit the most terrible crimes and political leaders around the world have been leveraging the resulting chaos and fear to spread xenophobia and isolationism, taking humanity backward for their personal aspirations.

The Arizal unveiled that the shofar blast awakens God from his "Dormita" and renews his interest in humanity. The sound of the shofar crowds God as the king of the universe. Similarly, to an earthy king being inaugurated by the blowing of trumpets. As Kingship, Malchut is rebuilt, tension dissipates and a happy and sweet new year can finally start. This annual miracle is the secret of the Shofar, at the end of every year, the world nears termination and the Shofar blast creates the hope of a new beginning.

The shofar teaches all of us that we have an incredible power to shape reality and that our simplest deeds have a cosmic impact. The same way one evil act can destroy the life of many, every good deed, every Mitzvah has an everlasting effect.

However, this transformation power is a double-edged sword. its misuse can lead to fundamentalism. We first must apply it in order to transform ourselves, before pretending to transform the world. That's why the Talmud teaches us that we are obligated at Rosh Hashanah not only to blow the Shofar but also to listen to its sound. The active act of blowing characterizes our ability to crown the King and to shape reality, while the passive act of listening calls for introspection as we subject ourselves to his will.

In order to continuously grow we need to oscillate between these two conflicting states of mind: "I can change the world" and "I am aware of my personality flaws and need to rein my ego".
Only then we can truly expect a happy and sweet new year.