Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Voice of the Shofar

by R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
In Keren LeDovid, the Puppa Rov, Rav Greenwald has an amazing short but succint message for us Rosh HaShanna:

He begins with a question:

In mussaf on Rosh haShanna we recite a blessing saying "Because You hear the sound of the kol shofar and listen to the teruah blast of the shofar and there is none like You,"

Why does the verse seemingly repeat the fact that Hashem hears us blowing shofar twice, once saying that He hears the kol shofar and once saying He listens to the teruah of the shofar, isn't that saying the same thing twice?

And what does the end statement mean, and there is none like You,? we know that no one and nothing can compare to or with Hashem, what connection does this idea have to the fact that Hashem hears our shofar?

In essence the answer is based on the well known statement of our sages, Chazal tell us that where the baal teshuva, the masters of repentance stand, not even the righteous can stand.

Citing the holy Shel"ah, the Keren LeDovid teaches that there are two distinct forms of blowing shofar and what they represent. The holy Shel"ah says that the kol shofar - the simple basic trumpet like blast - is the sound of a righteous tzadik. Whereas the wailing cries of the teruah represent the penitent baal teshuva,  crying as he repents over his sins and mistakes.

Thus we now understand the symbolism and language, the Puppa Rav writes, that hearing and listening are also different. In Hebrew one can hear (Shomea) from afar, but (Haazana) listening connotes intimacy and closeness.

Thus G-d is saying that he hears the kol shofar, He is saying that He hears and accepts the prayers of the whole and simple righteous tzadik. Yet when it comes to the penitent baal teshuva, the master of return, Hashem listens up close. There is a closeness and intimacy there that the tzadik does not share.

This is why the blessing ends declaring there is none like You Hashem, because normally we would expect that a blameless righteous tzadik should be the closest to G-d, yet Hashem shows us that just the opposite is true, He values the close intimacy of the baal teshuva, thus none is like You.

The story is told about a student studying in a yeshiva for newly devoted returnees to Judaism who himself came from a religious background. He once approached a famous rabbi and introduced himself. "And in which Yeshiva do you learn?" asked the rabbi. "I study in such and such yeshiva," he answered and quickly he added, "but I am not a baal teshuva!" The rabbi smiled looked at him with a piercing glance and asked him "Nu why are you not?"

May we all merit to make this new year our best year, repent and correct our mistakes and learn from the holy words of the advocate for Klal Yisroel the holy Berditchever who declare all month long during Elul, "Today I shall repent and  return Hashem!" "Who are you kidding?" he would berate himself, "thats what you said yesterday." "ya, but yesterday I didnt really mean it, today, I mean it." And thus he would try again and again. let's give ourselves a second chance and we will all be masters of return.

Shana Tova -  A Sweet New Year to you, your family and loved ones

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim Publishing
Chassidic Classics in the English Language

and my favourite shofar video, with the dog in the park [a new year tradition on this blog]


Joe said...

Amazing how HaShem's creatures are sensitive to spiritual realities and yet, the pinnacle of HaShem's creation, mankind is deaf and dumb.... sometimes on another planet... sigh.

Anonymous said...

The rabbi blowing the shofar is my rebbi, Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chabad-Lubavitch of Utah. He and his rebbetzin, Sharonne (daughter of renowned scholar Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet) are truly extraordinary people who have served the Utah Jewish community for almost 20 years. They are pillars of chesed and ahavat Yisrael, doing anything they can for anyone who needs. Rabbi Zippel has worked with hundreds of Jewish teens in treatment programs around Utah, and has rescued quite a few from Mormon influences. He can be reached at rabbi@jewishutah.com.

Devorah said...

Please wish Rabbi Zippel a Shana Tova and let him know that once again his shofar-with-dog has woken up the world.