Why do we have the different sounds of the shofar? The Rabbis answer that people around the world cry differently. Some moan, some sob, and some whimper. The shevarim and teruah calls echo those distinct manners of crying. Together on Rosh Hashana, we hear the cries of the world.
This week, I had a revelation. As I brought the shofar from class to class in our Douglas Family Early Childhood Center pre-school, we learned the calls. However, we changed the paradigm. I asked the kids to imagine that the shofar could change our cries to laughing. The shevarim may mimic a cry, but what if the teruah really sounded like laughter? When we have difficult days, we try our hardest to “turn our frown upside down.” On Rosh Hashana, when we gather as communities around the world, there are plenty of cries to be heard–locally, nationally, and around the world. Yet, for just a moment, can we also hear the laughter? It is a beautiful sight when a baby turns cries into a first smile, and the smile transforms to a giggle.
My father always said, “If you can know someone through tears and smiles, then you really know them.”
Kol Haneshama tehalel ya, let every breath of life praise God, our Psalms teach us. With the shofar, we use each and every one of our breaths to share with the world our feelings. At the end of the day, we aim to put those sounds together. Tekiah gedola, the great blast of the shofar, with the still silent voice of God in our hearts.