Nachal novea; makor chochma -
A flowing river; the source of wisdom (Mish. 18:4)

Rosh Hashana 5750

Why is it necessary to blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana?

Due to our many sins, we become demoralized and lose courage to ask for forgiveness. Therefore, Hashem did us a great kindness on the day of judgment and made Rosh Hashana come out on Rosh Chodesh. On Rosh Chodesh, it is as if Hashem himself seeks forgiveness for diminishing the size of the moon, which weakened the light of the power of holiness and through which evil and sin were brought to the world. Therefore, on Rosh Hashana we are not discouraged from asking forgiveness since Hashem himself seeks forgiveness.

Then when we follow Hashem’s example which encourages us to repent, we blow the Shofar which is a tool for opening up the gates of repentace. How does this mechanism work? The Shofar is the voice of truth, and when a person prays to Hashem with the voice of truth, his true inner feelings, a side door escape hatch us is opened for that person and he escapes from the forces of evil who try to condemn him, swallow him up, and prevent him from repenting. The Shofar is the voice of truth which allows one to escape evil. This is why on the day of judgment it is critical to blow the Shofar which enables each person to escape evil, for without it we would be swallowed up by the evil we created through our sins.

How do we know that the Shofar is the voice of truth? The Shofar is like the heart. Just as the heart is embedded in the narrow depths of the body, and when a person prays from his heart he is expressing his inner most true feelings, so to the Shofar. Like the heart, it is blown from the narrowest part and the lowest end of the Shofar, from the depths. In this way, the Shofar and the heart are synonymous and both express truth. Therefore, we can better understand the verses in psalms which says, "from the depths I called out to Hashem." (Psalms 130). This means from the depths of my heart and the lowest end of the Shofar, which are the words expressed in truth. The end of the psalm says "He will surely redeem Israel from all his iniquities." This psalm is teaching that through words of truth a person is redeemed from evil—his sins. It says in Psalms 118, "from my narrowness I called on Hashem." This means I called in truth to Hashem which is from a narrow place which is where the heary is located and this is from the narrow end of the Shofar as well. Then the verse continues, "Hashem answered me with enlargement." This verse again shows Hashem saves a person through his words spoken in truth. The being answered with enlargement is symbolized by the wide end of the Shofar.

To further illustrate that the Shofar produces a voice of turth, which is the mechanism for escaping evil, the Shofar is synonymous with the verse, "The voice is the voice of Yakov." Voice is mentioned by the Shofar and voice is mentioned in reference to Yakov. This indicates a common link between Yakov and the Shofar. Yakov is referred to as a man of truth as the verse indicates, "give truth to Yakov," showing that Yakov is synonymous with truth. Since Yakov, who is the definition of truth, is linked to the voice of the Shofar, as mentioned earlier. This indicates the voice of the Shofar is the voice of truth, which enables us to escape evil.

The Shofar brings about the remembrance and the reactivation of the actions of the first day of creation. On the first day of creation, at first darkness covered the surface of the deep. On a practical level, this verse refers to the person whose heart and mined are covered over and trapped by the evil created by his sins. Then the verse continues, "the spirit of Hashem hovered over the face of the deep." The "spirit" in this verse is synonymous with the use of the word "spirit" mentioned in a verse connected with Yakov. As it says in the book of Bereshis, "and the spirit of their father Yakov was revived." As we mentioned earlier, Yakov refers to truth. Therefore, these two verses indicate that the "spirit" mentioned in the verse by creation is synonymous with the truth which is derived from the verse connected to Yakov mentioning the same word "spirit." One verse defines the other. The second part of the verse mentioned creation, "hovered over the face of the deep," refers to the spirit, which we defined above as referring to truth, hovered over the waters to chase away the darkness (evil). This shows that truth chases away darkness. Then the verse continues, "and Hashem said let there be light, and there was light." This refers to the spirit of truth creating light which eliminates darkness, This is illustrated by the verse, "Hashem is my light and my salvation" (Psalms 27), meaning that through the light of truth Hashem will save me. Another verse further illustrates this: "Hashem is close to all those who call upon him, all who call upon him in truth. (Psalms 145). Through truth, Hashem moves close to a person to save him from evil.

Now that we see that prayer needs to be said in truth for it to be effective, we can better understand the importance of the function of the Shofar. The need for truth, expressing our true feelings to Hashem, is paramount in our prayers. Therefore, only the Teruah, of all the notes of the Shofar we blow, is mentioned in the Chumash to illustrate the importance of truth. It says in many holy books that the Teruah symbolizes Yakov—truth. This indicates the main note of the Shofar is the Teruah—truth—which injects truth into our prayers to eliminate evil. The way in which the Teruah is blown exemplifies for us how effective truth is in rectifying evil. We always blow a Tekeah, a simple note, before each Teruah. This refers to a person before his sin: he is whole and in a state of simplicity—nothing bothers him since he is sinless. When he commits a sin, he becomes broken, as indicated by the Shevarim note, and is discouraged as it says in Psalms, "my baseness has broken my heart." Then the Teruah is sounded which is a prayer of truth, which is called a groaning (genuchai ganach) and a wailing (Yelulai Yalil) sound. After the Teruah is sounded, as second simple note, thje Tekeah is again blown to indicate that after doing teshuva in truth, the person reverts back to his original simple calm state and his sins are rectified. On Rosh Hashana, harsh judgment prevails, and the only way to escape is to attach oneself to the voice of truth—the Shofar. We don’t mention any of our sins on Rosh Hashana and don’t confess our sins, due to the severity of the judgment. If we would confess our sins, we would add to our accuser’s arguments and cause greater damage, Chas va shalom!

Why is praying with truth so effective? This is due to the fact that the world was created based on truth, as the verse says: "Your creator Yakov." Yakov is synonymous with truth, and this is "creator" of the world. This indicates that the world was created based on Yakov's attribute—Truth. Our sages teach us that teshuva preceded the world. Therefore, the bridge to teshuva is truth. Through truth, we go back and connect ourselves to the time of creation which was based on truth and, at the time of creation, was a sinless state. As we said before, truth opens up a door of escape from this world which allows us to enter the gates of repentance, which were created prior to, beyond, and outside of this world. To reach repentance--to escape this world--we must attach ourselves to truth through the Shofar, which allows us to escape this world to teshuva, which lies beyond and outside of this world. Therefore, the days of repentance start on the day man was created, whose creation was based on truth, so we can connect ourselves to truth and escape to repentance. The only escape to repentance is through this narrow door of truth. Therefore, we blow the Shofar from the narrow end. If someone blows the Shofar from the wide end, he doesn’t fulfill his obligation since he didn’t enter through the narrow escape hatch, and he didn’t reach repentance. Noach also used this narrow door to escape from evil. The verse says, "You shall build an entrance to the ark on its side." This verse informs us that like Noach, to escape evil, you must enter through this side door.

Then one goes through the narrow entrance which is indicated by the verse "from my narrowness I called to Hashem." This also means calling our from a narrow place, which is the narrow part of the body—the heart—which expresses one’s true feelings. Then, "Hashem answered me with enlargement." The Teruah, which is a groaning sound, mimics the sound of a person groaning from a broken heart. This is part of repentance since the heart desired to do the sin, and then the heart injected within the mind the idea to sin. The grown which is within rectifies the evil thought to sin. The person then came to do the actual sin, which causes the second sound of the Teruah—the wailing sound—which is more intense than the groaning sound--which is crying our to rectify the act of the sin which is manifested outside the heart, like a cry exists from outside the body. Therefore, the Teruah rectifies our sins though the type of sound it makes.

It says in the Gemorrah that if a person is embarrassed over having sinned, he is forgiven for all his sins. When a person is embarrassed his face turns red. When a person blows the Shofar, his face turns red from the strain of blowing. This redness is synonymous with shame. We therefore attach ourselves to this redness of shame, and this allows us to feel shame and repent. The word for shame is "Boshess:" beis, shin, tof. If you rearrange these letters, it spells "Shavtah": return, "return until Hashem," shin, beis, tof.

The Shofar is made from the horn of a thoughtless animal. This indicates that through truth we can escape from our thoughtless animalistic actions which cause us to sin. When we do repentance, we elevate the animalism of this world to the state of holiness. This is why the Shofar is made from the horn of an animal: to show that we can elevate an almost useless part of an animal as a horn to holiness. We are then able to change all our downfalls to be the source of our elevation—to holiness. This is illustrated by using a lowly animal horn, which symbolizes our downfalls, acting like animals, to enable us to reach such high levels—repentance.

The main power injected into our prayers on Rosh Hashana is the blowing of the Shofar, and this is why we blow the Shofar during our prayers. We blow six, Teruahs before the Amidah and six Teruahs during the Amidah All the other times we blow the Shofar after the Amidah are just extra additions. All together the main blowing of the Shofar is the twelve Teruahs to fulfill the main requirement. The number twelve represents the twelve tribes and the twelve formulas or gates of prayer by which all our prayers ascend. The twelve tribes descended from Yakov who has the spiritual power of truth combined with the twelve Teruahs which also represent Yakov—truth. This adds truth to our prayers which allows them to be accepted.

May all Israel be worthy to bind themselves to the voice of truth, of the Shofar, to inject truth into our prayers which is an expression of our true feelings to enable all of our prayers to be accepted and bring about the coming of Moshiach quickly, amen.

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