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August 3, 2015 / 18 Av, 5775
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The Shofar’s Unifying Blasts


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Similarly, the shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah signify national unity. They are a call for collective introspection and remind us not only to do teshuvah but also that Hashem judges us all collectively as one. Hashem looks at us as individuals but at the same time as his collective children. The sound of the shofar is a powerful blast and a cry that should spur us to bring our hearts closer to Hashem, for the only true unity, the only true achdus, is doing Hashem’s bidding and fulfilling His desire.

Indeed, HaRav Yehudah Assad (Divrei Mahariya to Parashas Mikeitz) writes at length about the concept of national unity through the shofar blasts of Rosh Hashanah, and in the course of his essay he mentions that this was the purpose of the shofar blasts at Har Sinai as well.

Our Value Is Only in Unity

So how can we achieve this unity?

Unity can only be achieved as it was at Har Sinai. At the foot of the mountain the Jewish nation unquestioningly accepted upon itself the yoke of Torah and fear of Heaven. This complete and total acceptance of Torah as given at Har Sinai is the only way to attain achdus. All other ways of “fixing the world,” whether through cultural events or social gatherings, will not endure. The only enduring message is the message of Sinai.

Likewise, true unity was achieved in the Beis HaMikdash. All Jews, no matter what they looked like or in what profession they were engaged, came to the Beis HaMikdash and engaged in its service as one.

The function of the Beis HaMikdash was to provide a means for the Shechinah to reside within the entire Jewish people. This is clear from Hashem’s initial commandment to build the Mishkan (Shemos 25:8) – “They shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell among them” – and from the Torah’s later statement (ibid. 29:44-45), “I will sanctify the Tent of Meeting…and I will dwell in the midst of Bnei Yisrael.”

The Vilna Gaon teaches in his commentary on Mishlei (6:19) that the Shechinah rests on the Jewish people only when total unity exists among them: “When Bnei Yisrael are united, then the Shechinah rests on Yisrael…but when there are ‘conflicts among brothers,’ then ‘My Soul is revolted’ ” (Vayikra 26:30).

Thus, if we remove the divisive barriers surrounding our hearts; if we recognize that true unity – not the empty slogans calling for unity but true unity – can only be achieved by Klal Yisrael coming together as they did at Har Sinai and in the Beis HaMikdash, we will have indeed absorbed an integral lesson of Mattan Torah.

This unity will not be achieved if we conduct ourselves as millions of individuals but only if we act as one collective unit striving to fulfill the dictates of the Torah and trying to achieve shleimus.

Many people claim to wish for unity among Klal Yisrael but the unity they envision is often superficial, a veneer and a slogan that conceals the divisiveness in their hearts. To achieve genuine unity it is necessary to eliminate the acrimony that surrounds people’s hearts. The shofar blasts have the potential to help us reach the necessary level of unity, as they help us realize that each of us as an individual has so much less value. Our ultimate worth and our true value is only as collective components in the larger unified unit called Klal Yisrael.

The shofar blasts have the potential to help us achieve the requisite level of unity by empowering us to realize that each of us individually has such minimal value. Our ultimate worth, our true value, is only as collective components in the larger, unified unit called Klal Yisrael.

Only as part of the Klal, joined together to fulfill Hashem’s will, do we have the divinely-endowed ability to receive the Torah as “one nation in the Land.” By collectively coming together b’achdus to fulfill Hashem’s Will, we will be one step closer to that exalted day when “The great shofar will be sounded; the people who have been lost in the land of Ashur and those abandoned in the land of Egypt will come and prostrate themselves before Hashem on the holy mountain, in Yerushalayim.”

About the Author: Rav Dovid Hofstedter is the founder and nasi of Dirshu and mechaber of the Dorash Dovid sefarim on the Torah and Moadim.


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