21 Aug Praying for the Global Shofar Blast
In the Shemone Esrei, we pray to Hashem, “Toka b’shofar godol
lecheiruseinu, Blow the great and mighty shofar to herald our
emancipation.” We plead with Hashem to utilize this awesome
shofar that will be heard around the world. It is called the ‘Shofar
of Cheirus’ and the Maharsha elaborates that the shofar often
brings the message of freedom. Such is the case during the Jewish
Yovel (Jubilee Year) when the shofar is blown to siginify the
emancipation of Jewish slaves. So too, we find that the shofar is
a sign of freedom from the grips of the evil inclination on Rosh
The Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer relates a fascinating origin of this futuristic
shofar. He tells that it comes from the famous ram of
Yitzchok, the ram which Avrohom sacrificed instead of Yitzchok
at the Akeida. This ram had two horns. From the left one,
Hashem fashioned the shofar of Har Sinai and he blew it upon
giving the Torah. Its sound was heard around the world. From
the right horn, the larger of the two, Hashem fashioned the shofar
of Moshiach and He will hopefully blow it speedily in our days.
While even on the surface this is quite interesting, let’s scrape
below the surface and unearth a profound lesson from this ancient
What does the ram of Yitzchok symbolize? I believe it is the
quintessential example of a Jew passing one of G-d’s tests. In this
case, of course, it was the ultimate test given to Avrohom in being
asked to sacrifice his son. This was a multi-faceted nisoyon
which probed Avrohom’s fear of G-d to the hilt. Hashem was
asking him to sacrifice the child for whom he waited a lifetime.
He asked him to risk his wife of almost a century, having the fore
knowledge that she might not survive the shock of Yitzchok’s demise.
Having campaigned all his life against the idea of human
sacrifice, he was being asked to appear as the world’s greatest hypocrite.
He was being asked to voluntarily go against the credo of
kindness and compassion which he proclaimed throughout the
land his entire life. Finally, he was being asked to sacrifice the future
of Klal Yisroel which was invested in his dear son Yitzchok.
As history tells us, Avrohom passed the test with flying colors.
The culmination of his offering was the replacement ram, which
he slaughtered instead. Thus, this ram represents a shining example
of one who passed the greatest challenge of his life. It is
therefore very appropriate that from this ram’s horn Hashem
fashioned the shofar of Har Sinai for it was at Har Sinai that the
Jews were given all the regulations that would test them repeatedly
throughout time. Whether the test of Shabbos, kashrus,
shatnez, or scores of other daily challenges – all were given to us
at Har Sinai. Perhaps, we might suggest, this is why the Hebrew
letters of the word Sinai also spell the word
‘nisi’ which means ‘my tests,’ since all of ‘my
tests’ were first given at Har Sinai.
Then Hashem took the right horn of this
historic ram and fashioned the shofar of
Moshiach. This was to convey that when
enough of our Jewish brethren pass the
tests of the Torah, Hashem will blow this
mighty shofar and usher in the final redemption.
This novel explanation fits in neatly into the second stanza of our
brocha in Shemone Esrei, for after asking Hashem to blow the
shofar, the blessing continues, “V’sa neis l’kabeitz giluyoseinu.”
Literally, this is a prayer that Hashem should raise a banner
which will be recognized by Jews around the globe – summoning
them to Yerushalayim. Furthermore, the word ‘neis’ means
a miracle because many miracles will occur in the process of
gathering Jews from all four corners of the earth. However, now
with the above explanation in mind, we can suggest a third interpretation.
We can read ‘V’sa neis,’ to mean ‘raise up all the tests’
that the Jews have successfully met, and in that merit gather us
in from exile.
The brocha continuous, “V’kabtzeinu yachad meheira — Gather
us together quickly.” Here, we ask Hashem to redeem us sooner
than we were supposed to be redeemed. Here we are taking a
page out of the exodus from Egypt, where we are taught that
Hashem redeemed us 190 years earlier because of the unusually
harsh treatment we suffered under the hands of the Egyptians.
So too, we passionately beseech Hashem to bear in mind the cruel
and unusual punishment of the recent Holocaust era, from the
cattle cars to the gas chambers, from the human exterminations
to the crematoria, and in that merit may He redeem us hurriedly
from our Galus.
Indeed, in a very famous D’var Torah, the Vilna Gaon says that
the musical cantillation (notes) on the words, ‘Vayimoreru es
chayeihem – the Egyptians embittered our lives,” is kadma v’azla
(the name for a specific Jewish musical note). The literal meaning
of kadma v’azla is ‘to come early.’ Thus, the GR”A explains,
because they embittered our lives so severely, the redemption
came early. The icing on the cake is that, the Gaon points out,
the gematria of kadma v’azla is exactly 190, the amount of years
we came out of Mitzrayim earlier than we were supposed to (for
instead of the 400 years forecast, we left in 210).
In the merit of our collective prayers for this awesome Shofar
blast, may we all be zoche to hear it soon in our lifetime.