Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The central theme of the joyous festival of Sukkos is the Clouds of Glory, the Ananei HaKovod, which the sukkah itself comes to commemorate. For forty years during their sojourn in the hostile desert after they exited Egypt, these clouds saved the entire Jewish Nation from death by dehydration and frost. These miraculous clouds were brought about through the merit of the saintly Aharon HaKohen. We know that Aharon’s special strength was the attribute of peace. Thus, the Mishna says in Pirkei Avos, “Hevei mi-talmidov shel Aharon, oheiv shalom v’rodeif shalom – Be from the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace.” We therefore can conclude that the essential message of the Sukkos season is the great lesson of Shalom. This is why we associate the sukkah with peace in our Shabbos prayer when we say, “Ufros aleinu sukkas shlomecha – And spread over us your booth of peace.”

We are also taught that the Yom Tov of Sukkos corresponds to Yaakov Avinu for it is by him that the sukkah is mentioned first in Chumash when it says, “Yaakov nasa Sukkosa – Yaakov traveled to Sukkos.” Once again, this is extremely fitting since Yaakov was the embodiment and personification of Torah as it says, “Yaakov ish tam yosheiv ohalim – Yaakov was the perfect man, dwelling in the tents,” which is a reference to the great Torah academies of Sheim and Ever. Thus, Yaakov is also the symbol of peace for we are taught, “Talmidei chachomim marbim shalom b’olam – Torah scholars increase peace in the world.”


Since the principal focus of this festival is peace, I would like to share some thoughts I had about the shofar that are helpful tips on how to promote shalom in our lives.

As we know, the word shofar hints to, “Shapru maaseichem,” it is a clarion call to beautify our deeds. (The word shapru, which closely resembles shofar, means to beautify.) I also heard from my good friend, Mr. Shlomo Yoel Rosenberg, shlit”a, that SHoFaR is an abbreviation for SHalom, Parnassah, and Refuah, peace, livelihood, and health. These are the very vital ingredients of life that we hope the merit of shofar will win for us.

I realized this year that an anagram of the word shofar spells ‘pesher,’ which means to compromise. If we think about it, in the incident of the Akeidas Yitzchak, the actual shofar itself represented compromise. With fierce loyalty, Avraham Avinu was ready to sacrifice his Yitzchak to do the will of Hashem. The Malach told him however, “Al tishlach yadecha el ha-naar – Don’t even stretch out your hand towards the youth.” Avraham jealously wanted to fulfill the will of his Creator so Hashem struck a compromise. “V’hinei ayil achar ne’echaz ba-s’vach b’karnav – There was a ram caught in the thicket,” and the ram was offered instead. This is the shofar of the ram that we blow on Rosh Hashana.

So too, we find the Gemara says in Rosh Hashana, “Kol kama d’kafuf odif tfei – The more it (the shofar) is bent, the better it is.” Once again, this is to convey the message of compromise. When a straight shofar is bent, it represents a malleable attitude rather than a rigid position. Likewise, the Gemara in Menachos teaches us options about the mezuzah’s positioning on the doorpost. Should it be horizontal or vertical? In the homes of Ashkenazic Jewry, the mezuzah is neither horizontal nor vertical. Rather, it is placed on a diagonal. This is because it is vital that, at the portals of every Jewish home – indeed at the doorway of every Jewish room – there should be a reminder about the crucial message of compromise.

Thus, the shofar reminds us all to introduce into our lives – at home, in shul, at the workplace – with in-laws and siblings, friends and colleagues – the vital importance of compromise. Let’s see if we can adapt this beautiful practice and implement it into our lives this Sukkos. In that way we can be assured that we are acting in harmony with the fundamental message of Sukkos – peace.

May Hashem bless us all with a very happy, healthy, joyous chag.


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