Holidays & Time Zones Master Kabbalists

Knowing the Sound of the Shofar

The Bible says, “Praise worthy is the nation that knows the blowing.” And we know the blowing of Shofar is not only designated for Rosh Hashanah; for example, when the Israelites entered the land of Israel and wanted to capture the city of Jericho, they blew the Shofar and the walls came tumbling down. There is also the blowing of the Shofar which marks the end of Yom Kippur.

The Zohar says the blowing of the Shofar is not merely dealing with the sound; it is also dealing with consciousness. Rav Shimon bar Yochai says the person who blows the Shofar, as well as those who listen to the blowing, must inject consciousness because the sound by and within itself is like dialing a number and reaching the person you want to talk to but not speaking; the message does not get across. The fact that someone answered the phone does not indicate that you have accomplished the specific purpose, because if you do not talk then the individual you called does not know either what you are requesting or what your action is about, despite the fact that you have made contact.

Therefore, Rav Shimon says that in each sound one must recognize and have awareness of what that sound is about and what the purpose of that sound is. If we are not conscious of what energy is being manifested at that given moment, the sound itself does not accomplish the purpose, even though it is the correct sound at the correct time. It is like a missile without a warhead. The connection is knowing; this is what places the energy.

On Rosh Hashanah we are not merely blowing a Shofar, we are doing so with the understanding that there is only one objective: To remove the negative energy intelligence that roams around once a year without a support system. On any other day of the year we have both positive and negative energies, and we can say an Ana Beko’ach and connect with the positive aspect. The Zohar says there are only two days of the year—Rosh Hashanah—when there is no other support system.

On Rosh Hashanah we are given the opportunity to destroy din, or judgment, but we must know what it is. Negativity, or din, has a frame called fragmentation, misfortune, suffering, and illness. Therefore the objective of blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah is for no other purpose than to destroy the enemy, destroy negativity. To the extent that we totally destroy din, the enemy, all of the beneficence and good things such as fulfillment and certainty that we seek can be ours in the coming year. Thus the whole aspect of blowing the Shofar was established for the annihilation of din.

But if you just heard some wonderful blowing of the Shofar without the consciousness behind the energy, it is a very serious matter. Rav Shimon says that the person who blows the Shofar has to be complete (shalem) so that when he injects this energy into the system it will go and be directed towards the intended target. Rav Shimon shows us clearly how this should be established with all of the different frames that are mentioned, and yet it does not require that everyone remember, only the person blowing the Shofar. Do we all know how the telephone system works? No, all we need to know is how to dial. More than knowing how to dial is not required.

The Zohar says that Rosh Hashanah is the source. If we can manipulate this day, then it will be a manipulation for the whole year. But if we do not know what the purpose is, we have not made the connection to the internal energy of that instrument called the Shofar.

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