The Shofar: Symbol of Tishrei, Symbol of Judaism

Tishrei 5772 begins at Sundown on Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The shofar is not only a symbol we all associate with Tishrei, but it’s also a symbol of Judaism.  Many of us only think about the shofar at the High Holy days, but in ancient times it was used regularly in religious rites.

Blow the shofar at the new moon, at the full moon for our feast-day.
(Psalm 81:3)
In Psalms, we see the order to blow the shofar at both the new moon, Rosh Chodesh, and the full moon feast days. Historically the shofar would have been used to call us to prayer and attention for a myriad of reasons and events.  The shofar was also the sound of G-d/dess’ voice we hear at Sinai.  Is it any wonder that this ancient relic is one we still treasure today?  When considering the shofar, also remember that it is a sign of our history as a nation of shepherds.  I’m exploring purchasing my first shofar, and finding that I not only want one that is beautiful and playable — but also that I know comes from an animal that is not just kosher, but was also raised with respect and given a good life.  I also want it to be local.  Why should I import a shofar from a foreign country, when there are so many sheep right here? I would like to learn to play the shofar, but I also want to incorporate it into my fall altar, or spiritual focal point if you prefer. If you are unfamiliar with the idea of having a Jewish personal altar, here’s a post  about the practice.
This Tishrei, consider the Shofar as more than something you just hear at synagogue.  Explore the history, symbolism, elemental aspects, and potential spiritual uses.  Like Torah, the shofar can be understood on four (and probably more levels).  Consider the shofar at it’s literal level, the alluded to meanings, the “drash” or hidden story, and the mystical meaning.Here are some great resources for exploring the Shofar:
  • Hearing Shofar – Michael Chusid’s compendium of the Shofar, which is his core spiritual practice.
  • PeelaPom: Explore the shofar in relation to the elements
  • Telshemesh: The Ram, The Goat, and the Shofar

Share your shofar story! 


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3 Replies to “The Shofar: Symbol of Tishrei, Symbol of Judaism”

  1. I empathize with your desire to have a shofar from an animal that was raised with respect and lead a good life. I have gotten horns from shepherds with small flocks that meet your requirements. The shepherds care for the mother during her labor, help deliver the lambs, care for and feed the it as it grows, and do their best to make sure the animal has clean shelter and plenty of room to exercise out doors. When the animal is slaughtered, the shepherd often participates in the process, and it is done with a consciousness of life cycles and ecology that imparts a degree of holiness to the death.

    I also suggest you fabricate your own shofar instead of buying one. Removing the horn's bone core, deciding where to cut the blow hole, and sitting with the raw horn continues the bond between human and sheep. There are tips for fabricating a shofar in Vol 2 of my book.

    You can also contact me off line for help.

    L'shanah tovah.

    1. Michael

      I actually reached out to a local shepherd at my farmer's market. She raises goats and sells the meat at the market. I thought it would be a perfect fit. Turns out the because she takes them to a USDA butcher, she can't give me the horns. They won't give them back to her. She did say she'd keep an eye out for me.

      I'm oddly terrified of making my own Shofar, but it looks like that's the plan when I cross paths with a horn!

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