Our family is in possession of an abundance of shofarot. Many, many shofars. During quarantine, our children took up chess, learned to swim, and now, blow shofar.
But unlike the other somewhat delightful skills, the practice of blowing shofar is not pretty. It’s loud. Sometimes sounding like a bird squawking in your ear. Other times, sounding like the sputtering of a car running on empty. Not melodic. Headache-inducing.
One morning, with the sun barely peeking through the fold of darkness and dawn, I heard my conspiring children. “You blow it.” “You try it.” And before our new neighbors would have a legitimate excuse to ask us to move away, I intervened, “Nobody is ready to hear that! Nobody wants to hear the shofar right now!” Three sheepish kids put down their ram’s horns and walked away.
We’re usually so excited to hear the call of the shofar. A highlight of Rosh Hashanah. And yet, I wonder how many calls we’re just not ready to hear. How many alarms, cries, inner and outer voices we’ve pushed away, refusing to heed. What truth is too painful to admit? Whose complaint needs more attention than we’re willing to address? Which blasts cause us to cover our ears instead of revealing our hearts?
We know that we can hear someone our entire lives and yet, never understand them. But perhaps, it’s the makeup of the shofar’s different sounds that cause us to lift our eyes and pay attention. A long blow, medium blasts, broken cries…how can someone possibly turn away? Why are we willing to hear the shrill of this instrument but refuse to hear the voices of those we love the most?
It is possible that the blowing of the shofar is less about what we actually hear and more about the cries we can’t bother to acknowledge. Less about the alarm in the moment and more about the voices we emotionally can’t bear to burden.
Could it even be our own raw, vulnerable voice that we’re afraid to hear?
As much as my kids want to practice, the 6am shofar is probably one many of us would gladly wish away. But the question is worth asking: which shofar are we silencing, over and over again?
May we recognize that which we refuse to hear.
Shana Tova and Shabbat Shalom