Hear the Shofar Blast

Listen to the sounds of the ram's horn as you read some thoughts on the meaning of this tradition

There are any number of explanations for the meaning of the shofar blast, but this much is sure: The wail of the shofar is the quintessential sound of the Jewish High Holidays.

Listen to the three different types of shofar sounds

as you read some thoughts on the meaning of this tradition.

  • Tekiah, a long single blast

  • Shevarim, three short, wail-like blasts

  • Teruah, nine quick blasts in rapid succession

    Click here to listen.

    Let's examine each of these shofar sounds and see how they relate to the different themes of Rosh Hashanah.


    Rosh Hashanah is the day of appreciating who God is. We then internalize that understanding so that it becomes a living, practical part of our everyday reality. God is all-powerful. God is the Creator. God is the Sustainer. God is the Supervisor. In short, God is King of the Universe.

    But for many of us, the idea of a "king" conjures up images of a greedy and power-hungry despot who wants to subjugate the masses for his selfish aims. In Jewish tradition, a king is first and foremost a servant of the people. His only concern is that the people live in happiness and harmony. His decrees and laws are only for the good of the people, not for himself (see Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6).



    The object of Rosh Hashanah is to crown God as our King. Tekiah--the long, straight shofar blast--is the sound of the King's coronation. In the Garden of Eden, Adam's first act was to proclaim God as King. And now, the shofar proclaims to ourselves and to the world: God is our King. We set our values straight and return to the reality of God as the One Who runs the world... guiding history, moving mountains, and caring for each and every human being individually and personally.

    Maimonides adds one important qualification: It isn't enough that God is MY King alone. If ALL humanity doesn't recognize God as King, then there is something lacking in my own relationship with God. Part of my love for the Almighty is to help guide all people to an appreciation of Him. Of course, this is largely an expression of my deep caring for others. But it also affects my own sense of God's all-encompassing Kingship.

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