The Shofar's Question

The sound of the ram's horn asks: "What are you doing here?"

Print this page Print this page

Yet at the same time the picture is peculiarly tender in its choice of colors--purples, pinks, and grays. It conveys the gentleness and wisdom of Judaism, the softness of its melodies, the riches of its spirit. Such associations reach us on the notes of the shofar and again ask a question: "What are you doing with all this wealth? How are you relating to it in your life?"

The sound of the shofar is also a universal call. Produced on a raw horn without the intervention of a mouthpiece, it is more primitive, deeper even, than a human sound. It is the voice of an ancient partnership, between man and beast, between creation and the spirit of creation. Sometimes, when I blow the shofar, I think of animals and birds, squirrels, foxes, wrens, trees, running water, wind, and storm; and I listen in the shofar for the expression of all this wild and teeming life. The shofar's question then comes on the very breath of existence: "Where are you, partner amongst us, in this moment of shared time?"

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Jonathan Wittenberg

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg serves as rabbi of New North London Synagogue. His other publications include Three Pillars of Judaism: A Search for Faith and Values and The Laws of Life: A Guide to Traditional Jewish Practice at Times of Bereavement.