Honorable Mensch-ion

The Shofar Blast

This morning, the shofar sounded for the first time announcing the month of Elul, one month from the new year of Rosh Hashana. As much as the shofar is associated with awakening us in the month leading up to the High Holy Days, the Torah first mentions the shofar in Exodus 19 at the point of revelation at Mount Sinai. There was a dense cloud upon the mountain and a loud blast.

The blasts increased in volume and God answered the people in thunder. Any musician understands that the longer one sustains a note on a trumpet, the softer it gets. Yet, in this instance, the shofar began with a faint sound and became louder. Rashi explains that the people had to first be receptive to as much as they were able to hear. Ibn Ezra further teaches God did not want the people to be in fear at first.

Sound can scare us. A packed stadium with cheering fans can be both inspirational and fearful all at once. When the world around us is so loud that we cannot hear ourselves, we feel out of control. Yet, in the case of the shofar at Mount Sinai, the sound did not bother Moses. Through it and in it, he heard the Divine voice. Sound is one of the biggest distractions around us. At the same time, sound is what takes the feelings of our hearts and transforms them into the words on our lips and the actions of our hands.

As we hear the shofar for the next month, listen to the sounds. Do not let the sound chase you away. Rather, let the blasts call you closer; to yourself, to others, and ultimately, to God.

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