On the holy and awesome day of Rosh Hashana, Jews from all walks of life gather together in Synagogues across the world for Prayer, inspiration and check back in and say a quick “hi” to God. The focal point and climax of the day is of course the Shofar ceremony.
Since it is the shofar blowing that takes center stage, allow me to share with you some of the depth behind why we blow the shofar. There are many reasons that are given, but I would like to share with you one that resonates very deeply with me.
Shofar is perhaps the only Mitzvah that we do with our breath. Breath is symbolic for the Soul, as the two share a common Hebrew word. The word for soul, "Neshama", is almost identical to the word for breath, “Neshima”. And since the day of Rosh Hashana is the day when we celebrate the birthday of Mankind, the day that the Torah writes “And God blew into his nostrils the breath of life”, the Shofar serves as a reminder to us that are souls are just that, the breath of God.
Additionaly, when we blow the shofar, the breath enters in a straight through narrow hole as just a breath, something abstract and futile. But when it comes out of the other side- after it has gone through the curves and turns of the shofar, it comes out the higher side a much more powerful sound, a dramatic cry of victory. This symbolizes the Neshama entering in to the world, the narrow space, as it goes through the highs and the lows. But through it all it emerges on the other side and returns to God greater and victorious.
We are taught that the reason that Neshama needs to go through these struggle. These highs and lows, curves and twists, is that through it all, it earns it’s reward in the Next World as we becomes the owner of our spiritual essence not just a taker, the creator of our destiny not just a consumer.
The shofar reminds us of just that. Are we the owners or are we takes? Are we creators or are we consumers?
We live in a world that wants to create our life for us. Marketers all across the globe track our patterns and studying our habits in order to sell you what they decide you would enjoy. Television captures the attention of the averame person for close to 3 hours a day, when time spent on thinking and reading in most cases is less than a half an hour a day. Our brains are scattered through multi-tasking, multi-tab web surfing, social media and the internet viral sensations (in a rather interesting calculation, the Economist calculated that the number of combined hours spent watching the viral sensation "Gangnam Style," which as of June has been viewed more than two billion times on YouTube added up to 140 million hours -- 16,000 years!) and just the general “everydayathon” of life that makes us to busy to do anything.
The Shofar is meant to wake us up and remind us to break free of the futility of being stuck in that crowded place and discover your self and your own creativity and take ownership of your life.