The Cry of the Shofar

Friday, 30 September, 2016 - 12:13 pm

shofar.jpgThe Cry of the Shofar 

The greatest obstacle in the path of exponential growth is past success. 

If you ask a successful accomplished person to write down what he wants to achieve next year, chances are that the achievement he hopes for is not exponentially greater than the success that he has already achieved.

He is not alone. Children and young people, who did not yet enjoy a degree of success, dream about reaching the stars, adults, who self-define by their success, usually hope to do better in the future, but not exponentially better.

That’s a problem. It’s a problem because intuitively we feel our infinite soul, and our boundless potential. Tell someone that she is so great that she has maximized her potential, and you are sure to offend her. Because, at the core of our being, we reject that we are limited, and we feel that we can always achieve greater heights.

Once a year we have to shatter our carefully constructed comfort zone. Once a year, as we hear the blast of the Shofar, we have to look ourselves in the eye and ask the dreaded questions: “Am I the person I hoped to be? Is this all I can be?”

The only way to sense the infinite, is by feeling the oppressive constraints of the finite. When we hear the Shofar, we are hearing the purity of the soul within us, and the purity of the person we want to become. And when we hear the Shofar we feel how distant we are from our core, from what we want to become, from what we know we can be.

As we hear the Shofar, we face the confines of our current existence yet we refuse to make peace with it. We refuse to allow our shortcomings to define us. The cry of the Shofar is the cry of the soul feeling trapped by the confines of our current being. Hearing the cry of our soul yearning to break free, is the force that pushes us to escape our limitations and reach our core. When we reach our core, we discover that we are infinite, because we are one with the essence of the infinite light of G-d.  

Immediately before we sound the Shofar we recite seven verses of King David’s psalms. The first verse of the seven, the one that sets the tone for the blowing of the Shofar, is a deep cry to G-d:

“Out of the straits, I called to You, O G-d; G-d answered me with abounding relief.”[1]

This verse captures the purpose of blowing the Shofar. The Hebrew word for “abounding relief” (Ba’mer’chav) also means “wide expanse of space”. The verse is telling us that only when we feel trapped in the “straits” of our limitations, will we yearn to break free. The yearning, in and of itself, will cause G-d to answer us and place us in “the expanse”, “the expanse” of material and spiritual blessing for the upcoming year, the expanse of a bond with the infinite G-d.


[1] Psalms 118:5. 

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