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what should a person think when hearing the shofar during the month of Elul. is there some kind of basic intent one should have in mind?

What about during rosh hashana?

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Albert: Welcome to Mi.Yodeya and thanks for your interesting question. I hope you stay around and check out all the site has to offer. –  Gershon Gold Sep 4 at 15:12
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@DoubleAA, I think there's a pretty strong basis, considering the command "lishmoa'" and the integration with prayers, to assume that there's more to proper observance of this commandment than the mechanical action, much like there is to that of prayer itself. –  Isaac Moses Sep 4 at 17:21

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As for Rosh Hashana, Rav Saadiah lists 10 reasons for blowing shofar. They are:

  1. Coronations of kings are announced by trumpet blasts. The shofar is the coronation blast of Hashem's rulership. (So think about accepting Hashem as king)

  2. The Shofar is a wake up call to examine our actions. (So think about if your behavior has been appropriate.)

  3. The Shofar was blown at Har Sinai, and it is a reminder to study the Torah. (So think about accepting to study the Torah.)

  4. The Shofar reminds us of the declarations of the Nevi'im, who enjoined us to follow Hashem's ways. (So think about accepting to follow Hashem's ways according to the instructions of the Nevi'im.)

  5. The Shofar sounds like crying, which reminds us that we are in exile. (So think about desiring the redemption.)

  6. The Shofar reminds us of the ram of the binding of Isaac, to inspire us to be willing to sacrifice. (So think about accepting to do Hashem's will even when it involves sacrifices.)

  7. The Shofar reminds us of Hashem's might. (So think about how Hashem is mighty, and we should be humbled.)

  8. The Great Shofar will herald the Day of Judgement. (So think about the fact that you will be judged.)

  9. The Great Shofar will herald the Redemption. (So think of the hope that we have that we will be redeemed.)

  10. The Great Shofar will herald the time when the entire world will accept that Hashem is One. (So think about accepting that Hashem is One.)

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1 and possibly 8 i don't think is connected to elul. But thanks, is very informative. Is rav saadiah rav saadia gaon, or some other person? –  user613 Sep 7 at 10:38
    
@user3949142 Rav Saadiah Gaon. As I pointed out, my answer concerned RH. But I understand the blasts in Elul to be preparation for RH, and so the mindset could be the same, if only on a preparatory level. –  YeZ Sep 7 at 17:20

Rambam Hilchos Teshuvah 3 (4) says about blowing shofar on Rosh Hashono

אע"פ שתקיעת שופר בראש השנה גזירת הכתוב רמז יש בו כלומר עורו ישינים משנתכם ונרדמים הקיצו מתרדמתכם וחפשו במעשיכם וחזרו בתשובה וזכרו בוראכם.

{Free translation} Even though sounding the shofar on Rosh Hashono is a biblical command, there is a hint to it. It says so to speak "Wake up you sleepers from your sleep and you slumberers from your deep slumber and examine your deeds and return in repentance and remember your Creator."

So it seems that we should be thinking of our deeds, how good they are and what needs teshuvah and before Whom we are repenting. I think the blowing in Elul is a preparation for Rosh Hashono and the intention should be the same.

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The source for the minhag to blow shofar the whole month of Elul is the Pirkei Dirabi Eliezer chapter 46. After the eigel incident, and the ensuing tshuva, Hashem told Moshe to come back up the mountain and blow the shofar so nobody would make the same mistake counting the second time and get lost after avoda zara again. Hashem was 'elevated ' with that shofar sound and therefore the chachamim instituted the blowing of the shofar on rosh chodesh Elul every year. The Radal brings the Tur in siman 581 that adds 'and the whole month in order to get Bnei Yisroel to do tshuva as it says "if the shofar is blown in the city, and the people won't be afraid?" & to confuse sattan'.

The Radal adds that we find these additional words in many earlier works so he assumes that was in the version of the Pirkei Drabi Eliazar they all had.

The Aruch Hashulchan also adds along those lines that being that the shofar saved them from sin and Elul is the special month for tshuva, we therefore blow it then.

Seems from all this that the shofar in Elul serves the same basic purpose as on Rosh Hashana. Malchus, & tshuvah. So those would be what we are concentrating on.

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