Friday, September 23, 2011

Shofar Blessings

MUSICAL NOTE by Cantor Sherwood Goffin

The Blessings of the Shofar

Although, as your cantor, I am very much engrossed with the proper interpretation of the Yomim Noraim liturgy, there is no question that the moment that captures the attention of every worshipper is when the shofar is sounded.

The blowing of the shofar is the oldest ritual that is still heard in synagogues all over the world. It is interesting to note that it was used to proclaim the Jubilee Year in biblical times, as seen in Lev. 25:9-10: "to proclaim liberty throughout the land," the same verse engraved on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia! The shofar's purpose is to proclaim G-d's Kingship, and at the same time, to summon the Jewish People to repent. As the Baal Tokeahfor at least one day of R"H, I will recite two blessings in a traditional melody which is also used for the Megillah on Purim, and which some also utilize for the Shehecheyanu on Yom Kippur Eve. My teacher, Cantor Macy Nulman, theorizes that "the same melodic theme was intended for all three occasions in order to direct the worshipper's attention to the same sentiment. On Rosh Hashana the shofar reminds us of the Day of Judgment, on Yom Kippur each person's lot is determined, and on Purim Haman cast lots to determine the most favorable month and day ... to exterminate the Jews of Persia."

May the sound of the shofar awaken our hearts and encourage us to repent. But, may it also be the harbinger of the day when all of the world will recognize G-d's kingship and usher in an era when humankind will live together in peace and harmony.

Shana Tova! Daven well and sing along!


© 2011 LSS and Sherwood Goffin