Sounds & Silence!

There are times when one receives news and he is unable to express himself through words. When he hears good news, he will break out in a smile or begin to laugh, and if he hears sad news he will respond with tears or with sobs.

Then there are times when one is just speechless and has a soundless reaction.

Rosh Hashana is our day of judgement, when we are placed on trial in Heaven. We pray for life and express our interest in being loyal to the Almighty, which is our primary focus in our prayers when we declare G-d as our King.

We each have an inner fright when we are judged on High, however we may still be left in an expressionless state.

Here is where the Shofar comes in to help. There are three basic sounds of the Shofar. Tekia – a solid long blast. Shevorim ― three short blasts, and Teruah ― nine staccato sounds.

Each of the sounds resembles a certain type of crying. The Tekia is a long sigh. The Shevorim is an average cry with pauses. The Teruah is an uncontrollable sob.

Basically, the Shofar and the sounds that emanate from it represent our inner feelings of regret for being unfaithful to the Almighty. When we hear these sounds, they makes us tremble and awaken us to feelings of reconnecting to the Almighty. That is the magic of the wordless sounds of the Shofar.

Looking back at the second part of this year leaves us speechless. Who is not in awe of this illusive virus that has every doctor, researcher, government official and scientist scratching their heads?

As believing Jews, we look back at last Rosh Hashana and realize that when we recited the hallowed words of Nesaneh Tokef and said, “Who will be affected by a magaifa – pandemic,” this was all determined. It was then determined that each and every single person throughout planet earth would be gripped by the Covid pandemic. This is awesomely powerful when we take pause and think about it.

A virus does its damage silently – but it causes an outcry. How many tears were shed over the loss of loved ones? How much worry and concern was put in over the plight of loves ones? And how many people and families felt an economic strain? A single silent virus cell caused all this havoc.

All this was written down last Rosh Hashana and sealed on Yom Kippur.

Rosh Hashana is a reality. This year on Rosh Hashana we have the opportunity to change things around through our prayers and commitment to the Almighty. G-d longs for our interest in being more loyal to the mandate of His Torah which He lovingly gave to us to uphold. It is the key to fulfilling our relationship with Him.

When sounding the Shofar there needs to be a pause between each sound. A Tekia may not run directly into a Shevarim or Teruah. Thus the silent pauses are just as important as the sounds that emit from the Shofar for without the silent breaks, the sounds would be invalid. Traditionally, a designated person who is called a Makri, instructs the Shofar blower before each sound as to which sound he should blow.

The Shofar serves as the expression of our inner cry and awakening. The silence of the Shofar is the pause that is necessary to process what is occurring.

Traditionally, throughout the Mussaf service we blow 100 sounds of the Shofar. We do not talk or carry a conversation with another starting with the blessings that are recited before the Shofar is sounded until the final Tekiah Gedolah at the conclusion of the Mussaf, for we are in the midst of one long Mitzvah. Besides for our prayers and the tunes we present to Hashem, we remain silent throughout.

There is so much chaos caused by a silent virus, and then there is so much benefit from the silence that this awesome day affords us. We finally have time carved out to think, contemplate, reflect, connect and focus on our true and sacred reality and charge.

Rosh Hashana is when we understand that we were created for a purpose. We plead for life to fulfill that purpose. G-d created us in His image and wishes that we reflect positively upon it. He lovingly gives us Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to renew, refresh and upgrade our relationship.

In this way we can be positive and upbeat that G-d will grant us awe inspiring healing, tranquility, blessing, success, peace and salvation in the coming New Year!!