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September 29, 1989 - Image 155

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ending in a sharp rise. It has
its origin in ancient times,

when Jews were a nomadic,
sheep-herding people. When a
vicious animal would be seen,
the shepherd sounded tekiah
as a warning. In fact, it is
described in Hebrew
literature as "a call to awake."
The tekiah then is a call for
us to rouse ourselves out of
our dull selfish pursuits and
endeavor to find meaning and
fulfillment in our lives.
The second sound of the
shofar is shevarim. It is com-
posed of three broken tones.
According to tradition, it is
rather like crying or sobbing.
In this sound the Talmud
finds "the wail of the oppress-
ed" and "the sign of the suf-
fering." The essential purpose
of shevarim is to remind us
about our responsibility to
help and share in the suffer-
ings of our fellow humans.
As the last echoes of the
shevarim fade away, leaving
us pensive. and sad with the
sense of world pain, there
breaks in on us the next
refrain of the shofar: the loud
clarion call of teruah. The
teruah, with its insistent,
urgent staccato notes, mvoes
us to action. In biblical days,
it was the summons to battle.
Its message is that we must
move, positively to create a
good society and a peaceful
world.
Moses Maimonides, one of
the greatest Jewish minds of
the Middle Ages, gives a very
simple, straightforward ex-
planation. The shofar is a
call to "Awake, you sleepers,
from your sleep and you
slumberers awake from your
slumber. Reflect on your
deeds and repent, and
remember your Creator?'
A beautiful parable was
given by the famous Chasidic
sage, Levi Isaac of Berdichev.
"A king was lost in a forest
and a wise old man, who
recognized him showed him
the way. The king was
grateful and rewarded him by
raising him to a high position
in the realm. Years later, the
wise man provoked the king's
displeasure and, when called
to trial, wore the same clothes
he had worn on his first
meeting with the king. See-
ing him again, in ragged at-
tire, the king remembered
their original meeting and
forgave him." Similarly, said
Rabbi Levi Isaac, the soun-
ding of the shofar reminds
God of Israel's good begin-
ning, of its original free com-
mitment at Sinai to accept
God's kingship and Torah.
As it says in Psalms (89:16):
"Happy is the people that
understand the sound of the
shofar, for they shall walk in
the light of God." ❑

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 155

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