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The 2nd lesson from the series Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Davening: Open the Gates!

“Shofar: A Call to Return” – Rabbi Taubes discusses the significance of the Shofar that is blown during the Rosh HaShanah davening. The shofar is a wake up call to renew ourselves and re-examine our unique potential at the start of a new year.  Though it is a mitzvah like any other, there is also an emotional aspect that is ingrained in the act of the mitzvah, which forces every person to be alone with his inner thughts as the shofar is sounded.  There are two types of sounds discussed in the Talmud – a Tekiah, a flat even sound, and a Teruah, a broken sound.  These different sounds contain a paradoxical message, on the one hand, serenity reflected in the even sound of the Tekiah, and on the other hand, the panic and fear conveyed in the broken sound of the Teruah.  The ultimate message is a positive one, turning the fear of judgement into a moment of Mercy and Friendship with G-d.

The shofar also represents G-d’s Presence, hinting to us that He is Nearer to us, bringing a confluence of excitement and tension.  The shofar allows us to handle these conflicting emotions in a positive manner.

Rabbi Taubes also discusses the custom to eat the simanim, the signs, of Rosh Hashana, such as sweet foods, pomegranates, apples, and other assorted vegetables.  Rabbi Taubes explains the inner meaning what a sign is, demonstrating our closeness to Hashem.  Our non-verbal communication with Him through the shofar or the eating of the signs of Rosh Hashana are an indicator of our intimate relationship with G-d.

Shofar is the only commandment that is performed in the middle of  Shemoneh Esrei.  This, along with the shape of the shofar, is a proof that shofar blowing is a form of prayer, albeit a non-verbal one.

Time: 67:25

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Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Davening: Open the Gates – lesson 1sthere

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