What is a shofar? What do its calls — tekiah, shevarim, teruah — mean? Why does it send a chill down our spines and a shiver in our hearts?
Jeremiah Lockwood, lead singer and guitarist for The Sway Machinery, has a few answers.
‘Tis the season — the season, that is, to think about our year, our lives, and everything we’ve done right or wrong. (In a bizarre twist, it isn’t that different from the Santa Claus take on Christmas…we’re just not as materialistic about it.)
That, Jeremiah says, is why we have the shofar. It’s not like praying or speaking or giving a sermon — it’s just a single, sustained, wordless blast. The shofar doesn’t have any notes or volume control. Any time you blow into it, you’re getting it 100%. It’s beyond apologies, beyond words — it’s just supposed to grip you.
Pronounced: sho-FAR or SHO-far, Origin: Hebrew, a ram’s horn that is sounded during the month of Elul, on Rosh Hashanah, and on Yom Kippur. It is mentioned numerous times in the Bible, in reference to its ceremonial use in the Temple and to its function as a signal-horn of war.