> Holidays > The High Holidays > Rosh Hashanah > The Shofar

Silence and the Shofar

September 21, 2016 | by Karen Wolfers Rapaport

The shofar is our ancient meditation, encouraging us to withdraw from the noise of life and go in.

We are entering the High Holiday zone. A unique time where we shed artifice and pretention and uncover what is beneath our conditioning, habits, numbness, and fear, in order to grow…in order to flourish.

From Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur we are our own meditation masters, entering into the inner places of our being. But in order to practice this level of introspection and reflection, we need to have quiet. We need to be fully present in the moment in order to honestly assess where we are truly holding.

Sounds easy enough, but in the modern world, quiet has become a rarefied commodity.

It seems to be hard to be present in anything other than the latest Android application, Facebook private messages, and mountain of emails. It's hard to take a breath, let alone reflect and introspect when we are zooming from one responsibility to another.

It is easier to get lost in the "noise in our lives" than to quietly look within ourselves.

But during these remarkable days, we are encouraged to ask ourselves who are we without the noise and trappings of this life. Who are we without the computer, money, relationships? Who are without the success, without the anxiety?

In moments of self-examination, we are being asked to be focused, quiet, and fully present.

In between the cacophony and business that pervades our world, a shofar will blow.

This shofar is nothing more than the empty horn of a ram. However, when the breath of a person makes contact with it, it will become an instrument of alignment and soul searching.

Imagine sitting with your friends and suddenly you hear a piercing siren. You are in a deep sleep and the baby begins to shriek. You will no doubt be woken up. Your attention will be diverted to where the sound is coming from. You will be forced to focus.

The shofar creates a focused moment when you cannot help but listen and be present. The shofar speaks to the Jewish soul in ways other disciplines cannot.

The shofar sounds like a cry. When it gets your attention it beckons you to be honest with yourself, acknowledging and accepting past mistakes made, yet also giving hope that the coming year you will be more self-aware, better, more alive.

Did I treat others with dignity this year? Did I reserve judgment with those that I love this year? Did I act with the necessary compassion and boundaries this year? When did I feel numb this year? When did I feel arrogant this year?

What were the impediments for my growth in these areas this year?

This is the time when the fears and insecurities that we all battle can dissolve, and our inner being can shine the way it was meant to! We can discard the negative messages we tell ourselves and the past conditioning that sabotages our present. And in its place we can fill it with more vitalizing and elevated choices. It is a new beginning, unencumbered by the past, and anything is possible.

As the shofar blows, we are being created anew. Fully present, we cannot help but feel wonder and awe of the magnitude of the moment.

As the shofar blows, close your eyes, breathe, focus.

The shofar is our ancient meditation, encouraging us to withdraw from the noise of life and go in. It prods us to get intimate with ourselves and ponder our state of existence. It requests of us to be still, quiet, and open to the blessed unfolding of the New Year.

With thanks to Rav Dovbear Pinson

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