Jewish Calendar - Tishrei / Rosh Hashanah

In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a sacred occasion: you shall not work at your occupations. You shall observe it as a day when the horn is sounded. (Numbers 29:1)

There are ten reasons why the Creator, blessed be He, commanded us to sound the shofar on Rosh Hashanah:

Because this day is the beginning of creation on which the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world and reigned over it. Just as is with kings at the start of their reign — trumpets and horns are blown in their presence to make it known and to let it be heard in every place — thus it is when we designated the Creator as King on this day. As David said: "With trumpets and sounds of the horn, shout he before the King the Lord.[1]

Because the day of New Year is the first of the ten days of repentance, the shofar is sounded on it to announce to us as one warns and says: "Whoever wants to repent — let him repent; and if he does not, let him reproach himself." Thus do the kings: first they warn the people of their decree; then, if one violates a decree after the warning, his excuse is not accepted.
To remind us of Mount Sinai, as it is said: "The blare of the horn grew louder and louder"[2], and that we should accept for ourselves the covenant that our ancestors accepted for themselves, as they said "we will do and we will obey."[3]
To remind us of the words of the prophets that were compared to the sound of the shofar, as it is said: "Then whosoever hears the sound of the horn, and takes not warning, if the sword come and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head... whereas if he had taken warning, he would have delivered his soul."[4]
To remind us of the destruction of the Temple and the sound of the battle-cries of the enemies, as it is said: "Because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the horn, the alarm of war."[5] When we hear the sound of the shofar, we will ask God to rebuild the Temple.
To remind us of the binding of Isaac who offered his life to Heaven. We also should offer our lives for the sanctification of His name, and thus we will be remembered for good.
When we will hear the blowing of the shofar, we will be fearful and we will tremble, and we will humble ourselves before the Creator, for that is the nature of the shofar — it causes fear and trebling, as it is written: "Shall the horn be blown in a city and the people not tremble?"[6]
To recall the day of the great judgment and to be fearful of it, as it is said: "The great day of the Lord is near, it is near and hastens greatly...a day of the horn and alarm."[7]
To remind us of the ingathering of the scattered ones of Israel, that we ardently desire, as it is said: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great horn shall be blown; and they shall come who were lost in the land of Assyria...and they shall worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem."[8]
To remind us of the resurrection of the dead and the belief in it, as it is said: "All ye inhabitants of the dead and the belief in it, as it is said: "All ye inhabitants of the world, and ye dwellers on the earth, when an ensign is lifted up on the mountains, see ye; and when the horn is blown, hear ye."[9]


[*] Scholar and ga'on (head of an academy) in Babylonia, Saadiah Gaon (882-942) is best known for his prayer book, Siddur Rav Saadiyah Ga'on, which combines liturgical texts with halakhic (religio-legal) instructions, for his Judeo-Arabic translation of the Torah and several other biblical books, and for his commentaries on several biblical books. He was also one of the earliest poets to reside in Babylonia, and the author of the first great medieval Jewish philosophical classic, Emunot ve'Deot (Book of Beliefs and Opinions).

[1] Psalms 98:6 [Back]
[2] Exodus 19:19 [Back]
[3] Exodus 24:7 [Back]
[4] Ezekiel 33:4-5 [Back]
[5] Jeremiah 4:19 [Back]
[6] Amos 3:6 [Back]
[7] Zephaniah 1:14-16 [Back]
[8] Isaiah 27:13 [Back]
[9] Isaiah 18:3 [Back] 
excerpted Barnes and Noble linkFrom: Sefer Avudarham (Amsterdam, 1726). From: The Rosh Hashanah Anthology, JPS 1993. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher.
excerpted The Shofarblower by Kadya Molodowsky
The Shofar in Art, Ida Huberman



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