Off the Pulpit

The Music Inside Us

In this month of Elul before Rosh Hashana we blow the shofar each morning after the minyan. Several years ago I used to listen to the shofar masterfully blown by Rabbi Mark Fasman, who was also a concert trumpet player. I once asked him why he chose the trumpet and he gave a beautiful answer: “I wanted to play an instrument where the music came from inside me.”

What Rabbi Fasman said reminds us of the shofar’s lesson. We use various kinds of tools and instruments in the world, but the music must come from inside of us. In our prayers, we ask that all creation look to God, but primarily our own souls, for God leaves it to each person whether they will be prayerful, grateful or indifferent.

In this season of repentance the shofar is often compared to an alarm clock, intended to wake the sleeping soul. But it is also a reminder of the breath — the ruah, spirit, within each of us that, if stirred, can create music.