The shofar is the most popular Jewish instrument. Unlike a trumpet or trombone, there are no valves to play exact pitches. Every shofar is unique, and the sound is pure and simple.
Each of our children have their own shofar. While the neighbors have not yet complained of noise disturbances, or home has seen an increased volume level. Morning and night, the contest continues: Who blows the loudest shofar and who plays the longest tekiah gedola.
After we sound the last blast, we recite, ashrei haam yodei teruah-happy are the people who know the Teruah. While the mitzvah is to hear the shofar, the essence of the mitzvah is to know the purpose of the shofar.
A student of the Baal Shem Tov analyzed the 30 verses in our machzor depicting the idea of the shofar and wrote them down on a paper to study. He was chosen to sound the shofar on Rosh Hashanah and had the paper in his pocket. Yet, when the time came to blow the shofar, the student lost his notes and began to cry.
After the service, the Rabbi asked why he was so moved, and he explained that he could not think of the wonderful secrets of the shofar while blowing.
The Rabbi responded, “Tears, my dear student, are more powerful than all the keys in the world. You have achieved more with your sincerity than any thoughts you may have lost.”
Last year, on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we did not blow the shofar because it was Shabbat. The absence of the presence of sound was palpable around the world.
This year, when we hear that first blast, we will hear tears. Broken tears, staggered tears, and one long last wail.
We will sing and pray and speak next week on Rosh Hashanah 5782. But the most powers act we will perform is sounding the simple shofar. It may not be the prettiest, but it is the sound we need most.
Let this year be one of sincerity, of purity, and of meaning.