Maternal Cries of the Shofar
1 א

נָטַל אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ וְהֶעֱלָהוּ הָרִים וְהוֹרִידוֹ גְּבָעוֹת, הֶעֱלָהוּ עַל אֶחָד מִן הֶהָרִים וּבָנָה מִזְבֵּחַ וְסִדֵּר עֵצִים וְעָרַךְ מַעֲרָכָה וְנָטַל אֶת הַסַּכִּין לְשָׁחֲטוֹ, וְאִלּוּלֵי שֶׁקְּרָאוֹ מַלְאָךְ מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם כְּבָר הָיָה נִשְׁחָט. תֵּדַע שֶׁכֵּן, שֶׁחָזַר יִצְחָק אֵצֶל אִמּוֹ, וְאָמְרָה לוֹ אָן הָיִיתָ בְּרִי, אָמַר לָהּ נְטָלַנִּי אָבִי וְהֶעֱלַנִי הָרִים וְהוֹרִידַנִּי גְבָעוֹת וכו', אָמְרָה וַוי עַל בְּרִי דְרֵיוָתָא, אִלּוּלֵי הַמַּלְאָךְ כְּבָר הָיִיתָ שָׁחוּט, אָמַר לָהּ אִין. בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה צָוְחָה שִׁשָּׁה קוֹלוֹת כְּנֶגֶד שִׁשָּׁה תְּקִיעוֹת, אָמְרוּ לֹא הִסְפִּיקָה אֶת הַדָּבָר עַד שֶׁמֵּתָה.

20:2 He took Isaac his son and led him up hill and down dale, and took him up one of the mountains, built an altar, arranged wood and prepared the sacrificial array. He took the knife to slaughter him, and had an angel not called out to him from heaven, he would have been slaughtered already. Know that it is so, for Isaac returned to his mother, and she said to him, 'Where have you been, my son?' He said to her, 'My father took me and led me up hill and down dale ...' She said, 'Woe to the son of a woman drunk [with grief]! If it were not for the angel, you would have been slaughtered already?!' and he answered, 'Yes.' Thereupon she screamed out six cries, corresponding to the six [shofar] blasts. They said: no sooner had she done so, than she died.

2 ב

(ה) בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה הָלַךְ הַשָּׂטָן אֵצֶל שָׂרָה וְנִדְמָה לָהּ כִּדְמוּת יִצְחָק. כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאֲתָה אוֹתוֹ אָמְרָה לוֹ: בְּנִי, מֶה עָשָׂה לְךָ אָבִיךָ? אָמַר לָהּ: נְטַלַנִי אָבִי וְהֶעֱלַנִי הָרִים וְהוֹרִידַנִי בְקָעוֹת וְהֶעֱלַנִי לְרֹאשׁ הַר אֶחָד וּבָנוּ מִזְבֵּחַ וְסִדֵּר הַמַּעֲרָכָה וְהֶעֱרִיךְ אֶת הָעֵצִים וְעָקַד אוֹתִי עַל גַּבֵּי הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְלָקַח אֶת הַסַּכִּין לְשָׁחֳטֵנִי. וְאִלּוּלֵי שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַל תִּשְׁלַח יָדְךָ אֶל הַנַּעַר, כְּבָר הָיִיתִי נִשְׁחָט. לֹא הִסְפִּיק לִגְמֹר אֶת הַדָּבָר עַד שֶׁיָּצְאָה נִשְׁמָתָהּ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב, וַיָּבֹא אַבְרָהָם לִסְפֹּד לְשָׂרָה וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ. מֵהֵיכָן בָּא? מֵהַר הַמּוֹרִיָּה.

(5) While all this was transpiring, Satan visited Sarah in the guise of Isaac. When she saw him she asked: “What did your father do to you, my son?” He replied: “My father led me over mountains and through valleys until we finally reached the top of a certain mountain. There he erected an altar, arranged the firewood, bound me upon the altar, and took a knife to slaughter me. If the Holy One, blessed be He, had not called out, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, I would have been slaughtered.” He had hardly completed relating what had transpired when she fainted and died, as it is written: And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her (ibid. 23:2). From where did he come? From Moriah.

3 ג

(ח) וכשבא אברהם מהר המוריה, חרה אפו של סמא״ל, שראה שלא עלתה בידו תאות לבו לבטל קרבנו של אברהם, מה עשה, הלך ואמ׳ לשרה, אי שרה, לא שמעת מה שנעשה בעולם, אמרה לו לאו, אמ׳ לה לקח אישך הזקן לנער יצחק והקריבו לעולה, והנער בוכה ומייליל שלא יכול להנצל, מיד התחילה בוכה ומייללת, בכתה שלש בכיות כנגד שלש תקיעות, שלש יללות כנגד שלש יבבות, ופרחה נשמתה ומתה.

(8) When Abraham returned from Mount Moriah in peace, the anger of Sammael was kindled, for he saw that the desire of his heart to frustrate the offering of our father Abraham had not been realized. What did he do? He went and said to Sarah: Hast thou not heard what has happened in the world? She said to him: No. He said to her: Thy husband, Abraham, has taken thy son Isaac and slain him and offered him up as a burnt offering upon the altar. She began to weep and to cry aloud three times, corresponding to the three sustained notes (of the Shophar), and (she gave forth) three howlings corresponding to the three disconnected short notes (of the Shophar), and her soul fled, and she died.

4 ד
בראש השנה נפקדה שרה רחל וחנה מנלן א"ר אלעזר אתיא פקידה פקידה אתיא זכירה זכירה כתיב ברחל (בראשית ל, כב) ויזכור אלהים את רחל וכתיב בחנה (שמואל א א, יט) ויזכרה ה' ואתיא זכירה זכירה מראש השנה דכתיב (ויקרא כג, כד) שבתון זכרון תרועה פקידה פקידה כתיב בחנה (שמואל א ב, כא) כי פקד ה' את חנה וכתיב בשרה (בראשית כא, א) וה' פקד את שרה
It was taught in the baraita: On Rosh HaShana, Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah were revisited by God and conceived children. The Gemara asks: From where do we derive this? Rabbi Elazar said: This is derived by means of a verbal analogy between one instance of the term revisiting [pekida] and another instance of the term revisiting, and by means of a verbal analogy between one instance of the term remembering [zekhira] and another instance of the word remembering. It is written about Rachel: “And God remembered Rachel” (Genesis 30:22), and it is written about Hannah: “And the Lord remembered her” (I Samuel 1:19). And the meaning of these instances of the term remembering is derived from another instance of the term remembering, with regard to Rosh HaShana, as it is written: “A solemn rest, memorial proclaimed with the blast of a shofar” (Leviticus 23:24). From here it is derived that Rachel and Hannah were remembered by God on Rosh HaShana. And the meaning of one instance of the term revisiting is derived from another instance of the term revisiting. It is written about Hannah: “And the Lord revisited Hannah” (I Samuel 2:21), and it is written about Sarah: “And the Lord revisited Sarah” (Genesis 21:1). From here it is derived that just as Hannah was revisited on Rosh HaShana, so too, Sarah was revisited on Rosh HaShana.
5 ה

(א) וּבִמְלֹאת יְמֵי טָהֳרָה וְגוֹ'. לָמָּה הִיא מְבִיאָה קָרְבָּן. אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה: מֵאָה פְּעִיּוֹת הָאִשָּׁה פּוֹעָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: הֵן אַתֶּם מֵאַיִן וּפָעֳלְכֶם מֵאָפַע (ישעיה מא, כד). מַהוּ מֵאָפַע. מֵאָה פּוּעוֹת הִיא פּוֹעָה כְּשֶׁהִיא יוֹשֶׁבֶת עַל הַמַּשְׁבֵּר, תִּשְׁעִים וָתֵשַׁע לְמִיתָה, וְאַחַת לְחַיִּים. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהַצָּרוֹת מַקִּיפוֹת אוֹתָהּ, הִיא נוֹדֶרֶת שֶׁלֹּא תִּזָּקֵק עוֹד לְאִישָׁהּ. לְפִיכָךְ מְבִיאָה קָרְבָּן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: תָּבִיא כֶּבֶשׂ בֶּן שְׁנָתוֹ.

(1) (Lev. 12:6:) “And when the days of her purification are fulfilled [for either a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering….]” Why does she bring an offering? Our masters have said, “She screams a hundred times when she sits on the birthing chair, as stated (Is. 41:24), ‘Behold you are like nothing, and your actions are less than zero.’ What is [the meaning of] ‘less than zero (me’effa)?’ There are one hundred screams (meah puot), ninety-nine for death and one for life. And when the pangs arrive for her, she vows that she will never favour her husband [with sexual intercourse] again. She therefore brings an offering, as stated (ibid.), ‘she shall bring a lamb in its first year.’”

6 ו

שיעור תרועה כשלש יבבות. ... ובערוך פי' שהיו עושין כן שפי' בערך ערב דהלין דמחמרי [ועבדי] שלשים כדיתבין ושלשים בלחש ושלשים על הסדר כנגד מאה פעיות דפעיא אימיה דסיסרא ואלין [עשרה] אינון כשגומרין כל התפלה קול תקיעיא דיחידאי מיתבעי למיהוי [עשרה] תשר"ת תש"ת תר"ת והם מאה

The measure of a teru'ah is equal to three wailing calls. ... And in the Arukh it explains that they would do likewise, for in the entry on [the root] ayin-resh-bet it explains that those who are strict and blow thirty [blasts] while seated [i.e. after the reading of the Torah], thirty during the silent prayer, and thirty in the order [i.e. the repetition of the Amidah], [do so] to correspond to the hundred moans that Sisera's mother moaned. The [remaining] ten are when the whole Tefillah is completed, so the sound of the lone teki'ah has to amount to ten: teki'ah shevarim-teru'ah teki'ah, teki'ah shevarim teki'ah, teki'ah teru'ah teki'ah - making a total of a hundred.

7 ז

(כח) בְּעַד֩ הַחַלּ֨וֹן נִשְׁקְפָ֧ה וַתְּיַבֵּ֛ב אֵ֥ם סִֽיסְרָ֖א בְּעַ֣ד הָֽאֶשְׁנָ֑ב מַדּ֗וּעַ בֹּשֵׁ֤שׁ רִכְבּוֹ֙ לָב֔וֹא מַדּ֣וּעַ אֶֽחֱר֔וּ פַּעֲמֵ֖י מַרְכְּבוֹתָֽיו׃ (כט) חַכְמ֥וֹת שָׂרוֹתֶ֖יהָ תַּעֲנֶ֑ינָּה אַף־הִ֕יא תָּשִׁ֥יב אֲמָרֶ֖יהָ לָֽהּ׃ (ל) הֲלֹ֨א יִמְצְא֜וּ יְחַלְּק֣וּ שָׁלָ֗ל רַ֤חַם רַחֲמָתַ֙יִם֙ לְרֹ֣אשׁ גֶּ֔בֶר שְׁלַ֤ל צְבָעִים֙ לְסִ֣יסְרָ֔א שְׁלַ֥ל צְבָעִ֖ים רִקְמָ֑ה צֶ֥בַע רִקְמָתַ֖יִם לְצַוְּארֵ֥י שָׁלָֽל׃

(28) Through the window peered Sisera’s mother, Behind the lattice she wailed: “Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why so late the clatter of his wheels?” (29) The wisest of her ladies give answer; She, too, replies to herself: (30) “They must be dividing the spoil they have found: A damsel or two for each man, Spoil of dyed cloths for Sisera, Spoil of embroidered cloths, A couple of embroidered cloths Round every neck as spoil.”

8 ח

One Hundred Sounds

By Eliyahu Kitov (excerpt)

It has become a widespread custom to sound the shofar one hundred times on Rosh Hashanah - including tekiot, shevarim and teruot. These hundred sounds are considered symbolic of the one hundred and one letters contained in the lament of Sisera's mother as she awaited her son's return from the battlefield as recorded in the Song of Devorah (Judges 5).

The relationship of the sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah and the lament of Sisera's mother bears further explanation. Furthermore, if this is the source of the custom of sounding the shofar more times than required, why do we not sound it one hundred and one times?

The purpose of the sounding of the shofar is to arouse G‑d's compassion for the descendants of Yitzchak who was offered like a ram upon the altar, whereas the lament of Sisera's mother was an expression of grief suffused with animosity and hatred. Waiting for her son to return from the battlefield, she imagined that he was busy slaughtering and taking spoils and it was through thoughts such as these that she sought to console herself. Can there be greater cruelty?

Therefore, we implore: May the one hundred shofar sounds of compassion and mercy nullify every one of those other outcries -except one: the sorrow of a mother over her son. For even the most brutal of mothers is deserving of compassion when she laments her son. Thus, we sound a hundred sounds and not one hundred and one.

9 ט
(יג) יְהוָה֙ כַּגִּבּ֣וֹר יֵצֵ֔א כְּאִ֥ישׁ מִלְחָמ֖וֹת יָעִ֣יר קִנְאָ֑ה יָרִ֙יעַ֙ אַף־יַצְרִ֔יחַ עַל־אֹיְבָ֖יו יִתְגַּבָּֽר׃ (ס) (יד) הֶחֱשֵׁ֙יתִי֙ מֵֽעוֹלָ֔ם אַחֲרִ֖ישׁ אֶתְאַפָּ֑ק כַּיּוֹלֵדָ֣ה אֶפְעֶ֔ה אֶשֹּׁ֥ם וְאֶשְׁאַ֖ף יָֽחַד׃ (טו) אַחֲרִ֤יב הָרִים֙ וּגְבָע֔וֹת וְכָל־עֶשְׂבָּ֖ם אוֹבִ֑ישׁ וְשַׂמְתִּ֤י נְהָרוֹת֙ לָֽאִיִּ֔ים וַאֲגַמִּ֖ים אוֹבִֽישׁ׃ (טז) וְהוֹלַכְתִּ֣י עִוְרִ֗ים בְּדֶ֙רֶךְ֙ לֹ֣א יָדָ֔עוּ בִּנְתִיב֥וֹת לֹֽא־יָדְע֖וּ אַדְרִיכֵ֑ם אָשִׂים֩ מַחְשָׁ֨ךְ לִפְנֵיהֶ֜ם לָא֗וֹר וּמַֽעֲקַשִּׁים֙ לְמִישׁ֔וֹר אֵ֚לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֔ים עֲשִׂיתִ֖ם וְלֹ֥א עֲזַבְתִּֽים׃

(13) The LORD goes forth like a warrior, Like a fighter He whips up His rage. He yells, He roars aloud, He charges upon His enemies. (14) “I have kept silent far too long, Kept still and restrained Myself; Now I will scream like a woman in labour, I will pant and I will gasp. (15) Hills and heights will I scorch, Cause all their green to wither; I will turn rivers into isles, And dry the marshes up. (16) I will lead the blind By a road they did not know, And I will make them walk By paths they never knew. I will turn darkness before them to light, Rough places into level ground. These are the promises— I will keep them without fail.