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Posted on September 8, 2023 (5783) By Rabbi Label Lam | Series: | Level:

It’s definitely not too soon to be thinking about Rosh HaShana. The Sound of the Shofar is in the air. Here we are again, Boruch HASHEM and the question persists in its asking? What is the Shofar trying to say, without words?

The Torah has plenty of words and HASHEM has words too. With words HASHEM created the universe. So why now are suddenly, not quite stricken silent, but speechless?!

I heard from one of my Rebbeim many years ago that there are two types of silence. One is a silence that is below words. There is another silence that is beyond words. This world is so busy with words and it is crowded with conversation. It’s often hard to know how to respond. We find ourselves stricken silent, a silence below words. When Shabbos arrives with the help of a Niggun, a song from the heart we are suddenly vaulted to a silence above words. We know what that feels like.

Somebody turned my world inside out many years ago, on my first Shabbos encounter, by simply stating, “You, western intellects, you thinkers, you think G-d is in your little world?! You are in G-d’s world!” Suddenly, I realized, contrary to the words of song, time is NOT on my side, and I better prove to G-d that I exist, and that my life has significance.

One of the names that we have for HASHEM is MAKOM – literally PLACE, because HASHEM is the place of the world. HASHEM may be in our minds but we are really in HASHEM’s mind. We are a thought of HASHEM and that’s a good place to be because HASHEM’s thoughts are real. When we find ourselves thinking about HASHEM then our thoughts are real. As Shlomo HaMelech wrote in Shir HaShirim, “Ani L’Dodi v’Dodi Li” – “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me”.

Now what is it that the Shofar is trying to say, without words. The Shofar itself comes from a ram’s horn that sits on top of its head like a crown. Now even though everything that comes into this world flows through the process of MACHSHAVA – DIBUR – MAASEH – THOUGHT and SPEECH and ACTION, prior to the first thought is an overwhelming desire to create, and to bring into being. The Shofar is emanating from and expressing that higher desire.

That may help understand and breathe some meaning into the sound of the Shofar that comes from HASHEM, but the Shofar is like a choral reading. It’s not delineated who is communicating with whom. Like the Kol Chosson and Kol Kallah there is a back and forth as they each search for the other.

Although it’s often covered and even smothered, to the point where it’s barely audible, that “Kol Demama Daka”, the small thin voice, still, the greatest desire within a human being is to come close to HASHEM, as Dovid HaMelech said, “Kirvas Elochim Li Tov” – “For me, good is being close to HASHEM!” The greatest pleasure a person can have in this universe is to be connected, to be attached to HASHEM. Therefore, the greatest pain that’s possible is to be separate from HASHEM, and the Shofar is an amplification of that voice and it expresses a desire to break through all the barriers and make it all the way back.

So, the Shofar is an expression of ultimate desire, HASHEM’s desire for a world and a people and our desire to be that people and complete His world. The Shofar is a Holy signal that we are thinking of HASHEM and HASHEM is thinking of each and every one of us at the very same time. That makes HASHEM real to us and us real to HASHEM. The Shofar may not employ any words but it sure is saying a lot.