Shofar of Flesh
Shofar… So Good.
The feast of Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah/Feast of Trumpets) is nearly upon us. And with it, there is much speculation as to what the upcoming holy month holds for Israel and the world at large. Some folks are excited, but even more fear what may come to pass. There are so many voices speaking and prophesying at this season. Who is right? Who do we need to listen to?
According to the Torah, there is only one voice that we are commanded to hear at this season. (Lev. 23:23-25) It is the shrill voice of the humble shofar. Do you find it odd that out of all the feast days, Yom Teruah has the least requirements mentioned in the Torah? There is so much mystery associated with this day. Since it occurs on the New Moon, there is literally and figuratively less light. No wonder there is so much confusion surrounding this moed.
May I make a suggestion? Let’s have another look at what has been clearly revealed. What exactly is a shofar and why is it so important as to have an entire moed (feast) associated with it? At first glance, a shofar seems to be no more than a primitive trumpet made from the horns of a ram. But YHWH isn’t random or arbitrary. This Elul, all the mayhem, trials, testing, and just plain pressing has caused me to really cry out to YHWH.
And then something dawned on me. This simple instrument is made from a nephesh, a living creature. In order for us to enjoy its beautiful and unique sound, a ram must first die. If you’ve ever heard the voice of a shofar, it sounds very much like a loud, piercing cry.
A cry. Isn’t that what we are doing in this season? Are we not crying out to our Elohim and King? We desire heartfelt repentance, forgiveness, restoration, healing, and reconciliation. We throw ourselves at the feet of our Redeemer and rest in His unfathomable mercy, grace, compassion, and sovereignty. There is no instrument on the planet that can encompass our inward groans and wordless pleas better than the shofar.
The flesh/nephesh has to die in order for these cries to become a reality. This places us in a very intimate and childlike state. Little babies and young children cannot use words to describe what is in their innermost being. They often can’t express their discomfort with words. So, what do they do? They wail and cry out to their mother or father. Their shrieks are a loud alarm. It’s a siren call for mom or dad to come to the rescue. A loud cry will wake a parent from their slumber.
And so it is with the shofar. Its voice is the cry of a child to its parent. It is a tongue of wordless words. It reminds YHWH that He is our Father. It is a desperate plea for Abba to act on our behalf. It is a voice crying out from a vessel of flesh submitted to its Maker.
All of the inside soft flesh or cartilage of the ram’s horn must be removed before it can be used as an instrument of prayer, worship, and war. Once it is thoroughly cleaned out, one can then begin to fill it with something else: breath (life). The first cries from the shofar are born from pressed lips and a strong exhale of the blower’s breath. It is very much like a deep wail. The lips do not form words, but wordless music powered by the ruach.
Can you see the picture? This vessel must have all of its fleshly tissues removed in order for the breath/wind or Ruach to flow freely through it from tip to tip. When the shofar is filled with ruach, it cries out in repentance, praise, worship, and gathering. It speaks a message that is beyond words.
What was once a nephesh has been transformed into a vessel for the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). The voice of the shofar is very much akin to the niggunim and the tongues of fire acquired at the previous feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). We learn to move and speak not from the flesh, but with the infilling of the Spirit. And like sweet music, our (redeemed) voices learn to whisper the everlasting good news which is carried to the far reaches of the earth by the wind (ruach).
YHWH gave us the shofar for a reason. We are called to hear its voice because we are to be like the shofar. We are to be willing vessels, submitted to Adonai. We shout and cry out in jubilation for our King is Coming!
I pray your High Holy Days are blessed!
Below is a Blessing and Psalm for the Season. Shalom!
Blessing for the Shofar
Baruch ata Adonai Eh-lo-hei-nu meh-lekh ha-o-lam ah-share kid-e-sha-nu b-mits-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu leash-moe-ah kol shofar.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments and who has commanded us to hear the voice of the shofar.
Psalm to Praise our King at this Season
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
For the leader. A psalm of the descendants of Korach:
2 (1) Clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with cries of joy!
3 (2) For Adonai ‘Elyon is awesome, a great king over all the earth.
4 (3) He makes peoples subject to us, puts nations under our feet.
5 (4) He chooses our heritage for us, the pride of Ya‘akov, whom he loves. (Selah)
6 (5) God goes up to shouts of acclaim, Adonai to a blast on the shofar.
7 (6) Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our king, sing praises!
8 (7) For God is king of all the earth; sing praises in a maskil.
9 (8) God rules the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
10 (9) The leaders of the people gather together, the people of the God of Avraham; for the rulers of the earth belong to God, who is exalted on high.