Can We Survive Without the Shofar? by Rabbi Yosef Adler


We are all aware of the prominent role that the blowing of the Shofar plays within the Rosh Hashana experience.  In trying to formulate the rationale for מלכויות ,זכרונות ,ושופרות the Gemara states,אמרו לפני מלכויות כדי שתמליכוני עליכם ותזכריני עקידת יצחק. ובמה? בשופרות, “Recite מלכויות before Me to proclaim My kingship on this world, so that I will remember Avraham’s willingness to sacrifice Yitzchak.  All this can be accomplished via the medium of the Shofar.”  During Shacharit we state, בשופר אפתנו, “We will seduce God by sounding the Shofar.”  We understand that the sound of the Shofar represents wordless prayer unto Hashem.  Man, having articulated his thoughts to the best of his ability, realizes that on this Day of Judgment words are inadequate, and he relies on the Shofar to communicate his need to avail himself of Hashem’s kindness.

How, then, does a Jew experience Rosh Hashana this year, as it occurs on Shabbat and no Shofar blowing will take place?  Isn’t the Shofar an integral part of our Davening on Rosh Hashana? How do we relate to our Davening without it?  I suggest the following answer: the reason we do not sound the Shofar on Shabbat is based on a Rabbinic decree.  The Rabbis feared that, in one’s great haste to perform the Mitzva of Shofar, he will carry his Shofar in a public domain and violate the severe prohibition of carrying on Shabbat.  In order to spread the word of Hashem’s holy Torah, the Rabbis are invested with the authority to override His rules and commandments. 

Hashem said, “Sound the Shofar on Rosh Hashana; take your Lulav and Etrog on Sukkot,”  yet the Rabbis have told us not to do so on Shabbat. This idea, highlighting the role assigned to those who are agents of Hashem, is central to the Rosh Hashana Torah reading. Avraham was commanded directly  by Hashem to bring Yitzchak upon the altar as a sacrifice.  I would imagine that if one was convinced that Hashem was speaking to him, he would listen.  Avraham complied and bound Yitzchak upon the altar.  Suddenly, an angel appeared and instructed Avraham not to harm Yitzchak at all.  Angels are but emissaries of Hashem, but the angel’s direction was followed over Hashem’s directive.  So too, Am Yisrael follow the instructions of Hashem’s emissaries and we do not sound the Shofar on this Yom HaDin.

May our commitment to Torah Sheba’al Peh and the pursuit of Torah under the guidance of our teachers merit us that we which beseech of Hashem, נזכר נכתב לפניך אנחנו וכל עמך בית ישראל לחיים טובים ולשלום, “We should be remember and written before you, us and all of your nation, the house of Israel, for life goodness, and peace.”

Forgiveness as a Deed by Rabbi Hershel Solnica zt”l

Potential by Shuky Gross