Thursday, September 11, 2008

Shofar, Sho-Good: part 2: Spiritual Web Journey

Here are some quick Web explorations on the Shofar, for those with enough RAM (sorry) to download them:

1) For the most complete (and somewhat overwhelming, for the uninitiated) compilation of source material regarding the shofar from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash and even the Encyclopedia Brittanica, go to You could stay at this site until Simhat Torah, so much is packed into it. Read this material and you’ll certainly be the “shofar maven” of your row at services.

2) We don’t blow the shofar on Shabbat. When Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat (thankfully not this year) That’s like inviting everyone to the Super Bowl and deciding not to use the football. But there are good reasons for this (not the least of which is to get you here on the second day!). Read explanations for this at (a Conservative perspective) and (a Reconstructionist view). Fascinating discussion.

For me it comes down to three compelling reasons why not to blow shofar on Shabbat:

a) To remind us that we live in unredeemed times, different from when the Temple in Jerusalem existed,

b) To remind us that Shabbat is a High Holy Day that occurs every week, and is even more important than Rosh Hashanah (and is a time when we learn to live and let live, not to change everything)

and c) To remind us that the two days of Rosh Hashanah are in fact to be considered one long day in our tradition, and that in fact the entire 10 days of Teshuvah are all connected.

3) Rav Saadia’s Top Ten List of reasons to blow the shofar

4) Hear a shofar! The Jewish Outreach Institute’s shofar page got thousands of hits when it was advertised in the NY Times a couple of years ago. Hear for yourself, at Compare that with the sound at

5) An article about the two sides of the shofar, the sobbing and the celebratory, at

6) Go to for some quick background historical material on the shofar but beware of links to “messianic” sites. The shofar is a key symbol for messianic “Jews” (e.g. the so called “Jews” for Jesus), because of its biblical connection to the Jubilee, the revelation at Mt. Sinai and fulfillment of messianic prophecies.

7) “The shofar is the voice of truth.” From the Breslov Hasidim:

8) A straight or twisted shofar? Here’s the answer, from the Bar Ilan Web site:

9) When you hear the shofar, what is that mysterious sound? Is it the voice of God? A crying infant? A sobbing mother? Some speculation, at and

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