Hebrew Roots/Holy Days/Trumpets/The Blowing of the Shofar

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In the traditional Temple/Synagogue service, one hundred notes are sounded during the Rosh Hashanah and yom kippur service.

There are two main series of shofar blasts, each consisting of a number of sets. The shofar is blown during the Musaf (additional) service on Yom Teruah. The first series (30 blasts) is blown before the Musaf silent prayer (Amidah). The second series (30 blasts) is blown during the repetition of Musaf, integrated into narratives describing God's kingship (Malkiyot), remembrance of our ancestor's merit (Zichronot),and hopes for the messianic era (Shofarot). for Sephardim, they are split between the silent Musaf and the end of the service.

A Ninth century Babylonian teacher, Saadia Gaon, taught that there were ten reasons that the Holy One commanded us to blow the shofar on Yom Teruah:

  1. Just as earthly kings have horns and shofarot blown to celebrate the anniversary of their coronation, so God wants the shofar blown on the anniversary of the Creation - when there came to be a world that God could rule over, as it is said in Psalms 98:6
  1. Just as earthly kings have horns and shofarot blown to announce their decrees - and only after this warning actually enforce the decree - so God wants the shofar blown to announce the beginning of the Ten Days of Return, when all are commanded to turn their lives around.
  1. Just as the shofar blew when God gave the Torah at Mount Sinai, so it blows to remind us each year to do as our forbears said at Sinai:

Shemot (Exodus) 24:7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything Yahweh has said; we will obey."

  1. Just as Yehezekel (Ezekiel) compared the words of the Prophets, calling for the people to change their ways, to a shofar - so we must know that those who hear the shofar and do not take warning and change their lives will be responsible for their own destruction. Ezekiel 33:2-9
  1. Because the shofar was blown as a war-alarm when the Temple was destroyed, it should remind us of the destruction of the Temple - the disaster that we brought upon ourselves - and thus should warn us to abandon our misdeeds in order to avert disaster. Jeremiah 4:19-20
  1. Because God used a ram as a substitute sacrifice for Isaac, the ram's horn should remind us how Isaac and Abraham were prepared to give up all their hopes and dreams for God's sake. Genesis 22
  1. The blowing of a horn causes cities to tremble, so the shofar will make us tremble and fear our Creator. Amos 3: 6
  1. Since the shofar will be blown on the great day of Yahweh. Zephaniah 1:14-16 Daniel speaks of this judgment day in: (seated for judgment) Daniel 7:9-14 In the above passage the coronation of the King of kings. Revelation 20:4-6
  1. Since the shofar will be blown when the tempest-tossed of God's people are gathered in harmony to the Land of Israel, we should hear the shofar to stir our longings for that day. Isaiah 27:12-13; Matthew 24:29-31
  1. Since the shofar will be blown when Mashiach revives the dead, we hear the shofar in order to revive our faith in that supernatural transformation, the final victory of life and freedom over death and the ultimate oppressor.

Isaiah 18: 3 Also in Ezekiel 37:1-14

When the shofarot are sounded it arouses and motivates or "awakens" all who are to be judged on this day. We try to incite all who have sinned to plead with Yahweh and request mercy from Him in His judgement. Yahweh is receptive, as he is gracious, compassionate and forgiving, of those who return to Him with a complete heart. If the sounding of the Shofar has its intended effect, Yahweh will graciously accept the repentance of all.

Principles of Shofar Blowing[edit | edit source]

The commandment is to hear the shofar blowing in order to fulfill the mitzvah (commandment).

The shofar blower recites two blessings; the community must listen to the blessings and respond, "Amen"; to each one. (One should not say the usual "Baruch hu uvaruch sh'mo"; to these blessings.)

One should stand during the recitation of the blessings and for all of the shofar blasts. It is forbidden to speak from the beginning of the first blessing until after the final shofar blast (at the end of Mussaf).

Before the shofar is sounded, the Baal Tekiya (the shofar blower) prepares himself for his task of blowing the shofar for the congregation and says "I am prepared to fulfill God's commandment to blow the shofar, as it is prescribed in the Torah, 'a day of blowing unto you.'"

The Baal Tekiya then recites the following blessing: Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kidishanu bemitzvotav vetzvivanu leshemoa kol shofar.

Blessed are You, Adonai , our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with your commandments and has instructed us to hear the shofar.

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu, vekiymanu, vehigi'anu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

The Sounds of the Shofar[edit | edit source]

There are four different sounds associated with the blowing of the shofar during the Yom Teruah service. These sounds are interpreted as follows:

1. TEKIAH - A pure unbroken sound that calls man to search his heart, forsake his wrong ways, and seek forgiveness through repentance. The tekiah called the people to attention and to gather unto Moses. It is the calling note, calling your attention and holding you. It would be in general the summons to listen to God, to receive from Him the orders for the day.

2. TERUAH- A broken, staccato, trembling sound. It typifies the sorrow that comes to man when he realizes his misconduct and desires to change his ways. It must be at least 8 notes, most make 9 blasts so as not to accidentally do too few.

3. SHEVARIM - A wave-like sound of alarm calling upon man to stand by the banner of God. Teruah in Hebrew means not only a certain unique sound. It also connotes "to break", denoting breaking something and/or causing damage. It is the note for bustling, speedy activity, the signal for breaking up, for striking tents and breaking up camp.

4. TEKIAH GEDOLAH - The prolonged, unbroken sound typifying a final appeal to sincere repentance and atonement.

The Shofar blowing on Yom Teruah is a combination of the various sounds. The Tekiah is sounded first to call man's heart to give attention and hear the following 'sound' of the Shofar message. It is then followed by the Teruah which would then give His order to break off and away from every attachment that estranges us from God, and from our own purposes and present mode of life which is displeasing to God, and leave behind every worthless activity. The broken sound reminds us that we have a job of "breaking" to do as well - the breaking of our evil inclination.

The Shevarim 'speaks' for the heart of man initiating the call to repentance and godly sorrow of heart.

The tekiah which then follows, calls one to a new standpoint, a new attitude, of faithfully following God's way of life.

It is to rally us to come to a new place in Yahweh God.

The repetition of these sounds is for the purposed of penetrating deep into the recesses of man's being to bring a complete change of heart and complete reconciliation with our heavenly Father.

These four sounds form a set, called a Tekiyot of shofar blasts. In the sounding of the Shofar the Tekiah is 1 blast, the Shevarim is 3 wavering continuous blasts, and the Teruah is 9 staccato blasts.

The Pattern of the Service[edit | edit source]

Each set of Shofar blowings during the service are grouped in the following pattern: Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah (4 blasts, 14 sounds) Tekiah Shevarim Tekiah (3 blasts, 5 sounds) Tekiah Teruah Tekiah (3 blasts, 11 sounds) TOTAL = (6 Tekiot; 2 Shevarim; 2 Teruah = 10 blasts)

(6 Tekiot; 6 Shevarim; 18 Teruot = 30 sounds)

There are ten such sets of Shofar blasts during the day of Yom Teruah, making 100 blasts in all of 300 sounds.

The first set of blasts (30) are blown during the Musaf (silent prayer service)
The second set (30) are blown during the section for Yahweh's kingship, Judgement and Remembrance.
The final series are blown after the responsive reading before the message.

For The Amidah Prayer

  1. "tashrat"
  1. "tashat"
  1. "tarat"

For the Musaf Service

  1. MALKIYOTH - The existence of God as ruler.
Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah
Tekiah Shevarim Tekiah
Tekiah Teruah Tekiah
  1. ZICHRONOTH - God's divine justice.
Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah
Tekiah Shevarim Tekiah
Tekiah Teruah Tekiah
  1. SHOFAROTH - God's revelation.
Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah
Tekiah Shevarim Tekiah
Tekiah Teruah Tekiah-Gedolah

The Talmud, in Rosh HaShanah 34a, explains that the nine blasts are derived from a combination of three separate verses dealing with the shofar (Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:9, 23:24; Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:1). Taking all three verses together, we find the word TERUAH mentioned three times; this accounts for the three TERUOS. The TEKIAH before each TERUAH is derived from the verse: And you shall sound the shofar, a TERUAH...(Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:9). Here we see that preceding the TERUAH there is a simple sounding of the shofar, i.e., extended and unvaried, for it is referred to simply by the word shofar. After the TERUAH we again find that there is to be a simple sounding of the shofar, for the verse continues: You shall sound the shofar. Thus there are nine blasts in all - TEKIAH, TERUAH, TEKIAH, sounded three times. These, then, are the blasts of the scriptural order. (Rosh HaShanah Machzor, Mezorah Publications)