There are all kinds of meanings traditionally associated with the shofar blowing, as well as with each of its individual sounds. During the Rosh Hashana service, we have many sets of repetitions of the different sounds, associated with different parts of the service. It seems that it ought to therefore be possible to assign specific things to think about to each individual shofar call, based on which sound it is and where it is in the service and in its set of calls. That way, a person could be sure to cover all of the different meanings of the sounds and properly complement that awareness with awareness of the adjacent service.

Has anyone ever written a list of such assignments, so that I could look at it at each part of the service and have a good idea of what to think about right then? If not, are there general principles listed anywhere that we could use to generate such a list?


1 Answer 1


In genenral, Sha'ar Hakavanos says that the set of blowings before sh'mone esre is an appropriate time to verbally admit one's sins and that the Ariza"l would do so while crying. This fits with the many mentions it makes of the relationship between sleep, awakening, and the shofar. Our lack of cognizance of our own actions and their ramifications is like being in a constant state of sleep. At least once a year we are violently removed from this oblivion by the sound of the shofar, to be actively aware of our behavior.

Furthermore, it delineates (in Rosh Hashana #7) some progressive suggestions for the rest of the blowings:

  • First, concentrate on [the cancellation of] harsh sentences and their amelioration.
  • Then, think about the shape of the shofar and how its narrowness at the bottom represents the straits of difficulty in one's life while its width at the top represents escape from those straits.
  • Next, think about the shofar's sound and how it is produced in the throat. The various parts of the vocal apparatus that enable its sounding correspond to the letters in Lashon Hakodesh that those parts vocalize. This leads (in a deep way that I do not fully understand) to concentration on the Tetragrammaton and its component letters.

I don't know if this achieves the specificity you were looking for, or if it is obvious how to put these suggestions into practice.

  • you referred to the "shofar's sound and how it is produced in the throat". I do not understand. I did not think that the shofar's sound is produced in the (human) throat. Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 9:21
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    @AvrohomYitzchok - The throat is the conduit for the air that is expelled from the lungs and out the mouth. Modulations in its musculature affect the sound.
    – WAF
    Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 15:16
  • Throat does not affect the shofar (I am a ashofar blower). That being said, the comments about thinking about our voice and the lashon hakodesh associations can be valid on a symbolic level.
    – Daniel R
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 20:31
  • Strange, I was always told not to mention your sins on Rosh HaShana (I believe this is why people do not eat nuts, which have the same gematria as 'chet' - sin)
    – user1668
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 20:39
  • @PM Many of Ariza"l's practices were different from those of most contemporary Ashk'nazim.
    – WAF
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 20:52

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