web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



The Shofar’s Unifying Blasts


Front-Page-083013

Share Button

Achdus, unity, is a term that warms the heart. It is an ideal we all aspire to achieve but often find so elusive.

In particular, at the time of Rosh Hashanah, the idea and ideal of achdus plays a prominent role. When children are being judged by their father, the fact that they are united, that they live in peace and harmony with one another, certainly invokes the father’s mercy.

After all, it is every father’s fervent wish that his children should get along, love one another, help one another. Thus, when our Father in heaven sees His children living in peace and with achdus it is certainly something that will invoke Divine Mercy and help us be judged favorably on the Yom HaDin, The Day of Judgment.

We find the theme of achdus features prominently in the hallowed tefillah of Nesaneh Tokef, possibly the highlight of the Rosh Hashanah prayers, where we say, “All mankind pass before you like young sheep.” The pasuk cited in the first Mishnah in Maseches Rosh Hashanah to illustrate this concept is, “He who fashions their hearts ‘together’ comprehends their deeds.”

Hashem, who fashioned the hearts of the Jewish nation together as one, passes judgment on them on Rosh Hashanah in this way too.

In addition, an integral part of the Amidah on Rosh Hashanah is devoted to the theme of achdus. When we pray for the ultimate day when Hashem will “Grant his awe upon all that He has created…and all of Your creations will fear You,” the climax of that tefillah is, “And may they all form a single bond to do your will with a perfect heart.”

From that passage in the Amidah we see that the purpose of the ultimate revelation of Hashem’s glory in the times of Mashiach is that all Jews will serve Him in unity.

In our time, however, it seems so difficult to achieve that sort of unity. We find a lack of unity between communities and within individual communities. We find not only disagreement but often acrimonious and even humiliating discourse among Jews. How can we draw inspiration from lessons of Rosh Hashanah? Can we find in the teachings of our sages about Rosh Hashanah the recipe for true Jewish unity?

So often we see well-meaning Jews, in the pursuit of unity, hailing the “beautiful achdus” of different types of Jews getting together and joining hands. It is indeed beautiful – provided the achdus is one that enhances Yiddishkeit and not, chalilah, the opposite. Frequently, however we see a certain childish understanding of achdus that somehow finds favor in any “togetherness” regardless of who is being “united.”

Let us analyze the mitzvah of blowing shofar on Rosh Hashanah as well as the other instances where the Torah mentions the blowing of the shofar and find contemporary lessons that apply to this difficult day and age in which we live.

Shofars of Rosh Hashanah, Mattan Torah

Rambam (Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4), after emphasizing that blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, like all other dictates, is ultimately unfathomable and that we must fulfill it simply because Hashem commanded us to, offers a reason for the mitzvah. He interprets the shofar’s blast as saying, “You sleeping ones, wake up! You slumbering ones, rouse yourselves to attention! Examine your deeds, repent, and remember your Creator….”

Someone who hears the shofar being blown cannot remain indifferent, as the pasuk states (Amos 3:6), “Is it possible for a shofar to be blown in the city and the residents not to become frightened?”

We see from the Rambam that the shofar on Rosh Hashanah was meant to instill fear of Hashem in people.

Another instance when the shofar was blown was at Mattan Torah, the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The pasuk relates, “There were thunderclaps and lightning bolts and a heavy cloud on the mountain and a very mighty shofar blast. All the people in the camp trembled” (Shemos 19:16).

The Ibn Ezra explains that the trembling came from the sound of the shofar. Interestingly, Rabbeinu Bachyei (comment to Shemos 19:16) writes that the shofar blasts at Har Sinai were much louder than even the thunderclaps.

One would assume the people trembled in fear because of the awesome thunder roaring in their ears and the brilliant, blinding flashes of lightning that struck repeatedly in the sky above them. As Chazal taught (Berachos 59a), the purpose of thunderclaps is to “straighten out the crookedness in the heart” – apparently because they strike fear in the hearts of those who hear them.

Share Button

About the Author: Rav Dovid Hofstedter is the author of the “Dorash Dovid” seforim on the Torah and Moadim. He is also the founder and nasi of Dirshu – a worldwide Torah movement dedicated to accountability in Torah learning among all segments of Klal Yisrael that has impacted more than 100,000 participants since its inception fifteen years ago.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “The Shofar’s Unifying Blasts”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The interior of the El Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, Tunisia, in 2009.
Tunisian Jew Stabbed in Djerba
Latest Indepth Stories
Chief IDF Rabbi Rafi Peretz

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

Lebovic-041814

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Benveniste-041814

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

Dann-041814

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

Not one world leader holds Abbas accountable for his part in the breakdown of negotiations.

The 1948 re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty was a modern day Exodus and Parting of the Sea.

Spies who caused American deaths and worked for enemy states received lighter sentences than Pollard.

Christie’s “good friend” is an Imam who supports murderers of Jews and defames Israel and Christians.

More Articles from Rav Dovid Hofstedter
Front-Page-041814

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

Front-Page-083013

Achdus, unity, is a term that warms the heart. It is an ideal we all aspire to achieve but often find so elusive.

We are still in galus. Another year has gone by, a difficult year in many ways, but Mashiach has not yet arrived, the Beis HaMikdash has not yet been rebuilt and we are still languishing in exile.

“Therefore we are obligated to give thanks…to the One Who performed all these miracles for our forefathers and for us. He took us out from slavery to freedom…and from servitude to redemption.” – Haggadah shel Pesach

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-shofars-unifying-blasts/2013/08/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: