By Rabbi Ruth Adar
Tomorrow is Rosh HaShanah, the day we are commanded to hear the sound of the shofar.
The first time I heard it, I was surprised at the rawness of the sound. The first time I handled a shofar, I had another surprise. The shofar is not a fancy musical instrument; it is just an old piece of horn. There is no mouthpiece, no reed, no metal in it whatsoever. It does not make the sound: the mouth of the Jew who blows it does that. The shofar shapes the sound, and magnifies it.
The Hebrew word nefesh can be translated either as “breath” or as “soul.” Is it possible, then, that the sound of the shofar is really the sound of a Jewish soul, magnified so that we all can hear it?
When you hear the shofar, close your eyes. Feel time drop away from you. You are one with all the Jews of history: one with Miriam, one with Devorah, one with the daughters of Zelophechad. Feel the disturbance in your soul, the urgency of the shofar’s call. It is a call to battle, a warning sound, a summons.
What does the shofar say to you?
What are you going to do about it?