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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

Hashanah.

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

revelation.

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.