Blowing the Shofar Early

Question

Why do we blow the Shofar in the mornings during Elul? It’s not Rosh Hashana yet.

, 3 years

Answers

  1. The central commandment of Rosh Hashana, and the defining feature of this festival in the Torah, is the sounding of the shofar.

    A hollowed-out ram’s horn is blown on Rosh Hashana to produce sounds known as tekiah, shevaraim and teruah – a long blast, three shorter blasts and a number of very short blasts. The most obvious idea behind this commandment is that the shofar sounds a piercing wake-up call for us to begin an accounting of our lives, to become aware of our responsibilities and to make positive commitments for the future.

    Maimonides writes:

    Even though the blowing of the shofar is a decree of the Torah, there is nevertheless a hint within it. That is, “Wake up… from your sleep… Search through your actions, return in repentance and remember your Creator… Look into your souls, improve your ways… and abandon evil…”

    In light of this explanation, we can understand why there is a custom to begin sounding the shofar in the synagogue a month before Rosh Hashana. We have to start the process of change well before Rosh Hashanah to avoid a lost-minute, panicked rush. During the month before Rosh Hashana, known as Elul, the shofar is blown every day after the weekday morning services in order to wake us up from our apathy gradually, in the hope that we will not press the snooze button.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team