The Cry Heard Around the World/Shofarot

If there is one sound the Jewish people can identify almost immediately, it would be the commanding sound of the shofar. This sound is familiar to so many not only because it is blown one-hundred times on each day of Rosh HaShanah, but because it has been the one consistent sound that has resounded throughout Jewish history to herald both the greatest news, as well as the most tragic. Though the shofar is blown not just during the Shofarot section, but during Malkhuyot and Zikhronot as well, the Shofarot section uniquely describes the many emotional encounters we've had with this special ram's horn.

אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ תְּקַע בְּשׁוֹפָר גָּדוֹל לְחֵרוּתֵֽנוּ וְשָׂא נֵס לְקַבֵּץ גָּלֻיּוֹתֵֽינוּ וְקָרֵב פְּזוּרֵֽינוּ מִבֵּין הַגּוֹיִם וּנְפוּצוֹתֵֽינוּ כַּנֵּס מִיַּרְכְּתֵי אָֽרֶץ וַהֲבִיאֵֽנוּ לְצִיּוֹן עִירְךָ בְּרִנָּה וְלִירוּשָׁלַֽםִ בֵּית מִקְדָּשְׁךָ בְּשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם וְשָׁם נַעֲשֶׂה לְפָנֶֽיךָ אֶת קָרְבְּנוֹת חוֹבוֹתֵֽינוּ כִּמְצֻוָּה עָלֵֽינוּ בְתוֹרָתֶֽךָ עַל יְדֵי משֶׁה עַבְדֶּךָ מִפִּי כְבוֹדֶֽךָ כָּאָמוּר: וּבְיוֹם שִׂמְחַתְכֶם וּבְמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם וּבְרָאשֵׁי חָדְשֵׁיכֶם וּתְקַעְתֶּם בַּחֲצֹצְרֹת עַל עֹלֹתֵיכֶם וְעַל זִבְחֵי שַׁלְמֵיכֶם וְהָיוּ לָכֶם לְזִכָּרוֹן לִפְנֵי אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲנִי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם: כִּי אַתָּה שׁוֹמֵֽעַ קוֹל שׁוֹפָר וּמַאֲזִין תְּרוּעָה וְאֵין דּֽוֹמֶה לָּךְ: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה שׁוֹמֵֽעַ קוֹל תְּרוּעַת עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּרַחֲמִים:

Our God and God of our fathers, sound a great shofar for our liberty and raise a banner to gather our exiles. And bring near our scattered people from among the nations, and gather our dispersed from the ends of [the] earth. Bring us to Tziyon, Your city, with joyous song,— to Yerushalayim, House of Your Sanctuary, with eternal joy. And there we will offer before You our obligatory sacrifices, as we were commanded in Your Torah, through the hands of Moshe, Your servant, from the mouth of Your glory, as it is said: “And on the day of your rejoicing, and on your appointed festivals, and on your Rosh Chodesh days, you will sound the trumpets over your burnt-offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God; I am Adonoy, your God.” For You hear the sound of shofar, and listen to the teruah; and there is none like You. Blessed are You, Adonoy, Who hears the sound of the teruah of His people, Yisrael, with compassion.


  • The shofar is oftentimes associated with a wake-up call. In the context of the prayer above, the shofar's call-to-action is to gather in Jerusalem as a united people. In what ways is the Jewish community fractured? Who among us is in physical exile, finding our institutions inaccessible and unwelcoming? Who is in spiritual exile, feeling Torah does not speak to their values and that their Jewish voices are not appreciated? What will it take to help them (or us) feel at home in our communities?
  • In other contexts in the Torah, the shofar blast is used as a siren to mobilize troops to prepare for war. Those wars may have been against invading enemies, but we find ourselves fighting wars at-home as well: against poverty, racism, inequality, climate change, and more. What wars do you need help fighting? Which do you wish you would attend to more?
  • The blessing above praises God for "hear[ing] the sound of the teruah of His people, Yisrael, with compassion." Rather than a rallying cry, the staccato teruah blasts have traditionally been associated with the sound of a bereaved mother's painful whimper. If you can turn inward for a moment, where you are feeling internally incomplete, scattered, or broken? Try verbalizing that pain to yourself or to God, with a sincere request for compassion.

SHOFAROT - by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat,

The shofar reminds us
of the ram in the thicket.
Where are we, too, ensnared?
Can our song set us free?

The sound of the shofar
shatters our complacency.
It wails with our grief
and stutters with our inadequacy.

The shofar calls us to teshuvah.
The shofar cries out
I was whole, I was broken,
I will be whole again.

Make shofars of us, God!
Breathe through us: make of us
resonating chambers
for Your love.