‘Sound the trumpets of war!’
You can now go to war with a shofar - without waking the neighbourhood!
The Shofar portrays an instrument made from a rams horn. The red background represents the use of the shofar as an instrument of war. One of the four functions of the shofar was to sound the alarm, gather defenders and a call to arms. The sound issuing forth in white and gold represents the revelation and freedom that can issue forth as a shofar is lifted high and blown!
A shofar is an instrument made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal. It was used in ancient Israel to announce the New Moon (Rosh Chodesh) and call people together. It was also blown on Rosh Hashanah, marking the beginning of the New Year, signifying both need to wake up to the call to repentance, and in connection with the portion read on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Binding of Isaac (Genesis, chapter 22) in which Abraham sacrifices a ram in place of his son, Isaac.
Today, the shofar is featured most prominently in the Rosh Hashanah morning services. It is considered a commandment to hear the shofar blown.
There is a great deal of symbolism tied in with the legal requirements for what constitutes a proper shofar. The shofar of Rosh Hashanah, whose purpose it is to rouse the Divine in the listener, may not be constructed of an artificial instrument. It must be an instrument in its natural form and naturally hollow, through which sound is produced by human breath, which God breathes into human beings. This pure and natural sound symbolizes the lives it calls Jews to lead. What is more, the most desirable shofar is the bent horn of a ram. The ram reminds one of Abraham's willing sacrifice of that which was most precious to him. The curve in the horn mirrors the contrition of the one who repents.
The shofar in biblical times served a number of purposes:
Shofar of war:
The shofar in this role served as instrument of alarm to gather the defenders or to call to arm the troops to wage war as, for instance, in the times of Gideon the judge, "And the three hundred blew their shofar and the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host." It is in a similar way that the sound of the shofar calls the individual, through it's reverberating and unsettling tone, to repent as the prophet Amos declares "Shall a shofar be blown in a city, and the people not be afraid ?"
Shofar of melody:
This is the musical instrument in daily use whose sole purpose was to entertain the crowd and elude musical enjoyment by the masses. It is this instrument to whose sound kings were crowned. The shofar of song and melody is best described in Psalms 47, which is recited seven times, prior to its ceremonial sounding on the day of the Jewish new year (Rosh ha-Shana), "God is gone up with a shout the Lord with the sound of the Shofar. Sing praises to God, sing praises: Sing praises unto our King, sing praises."
Shofar of revelation:
As God spoke the ten commandments, at the foot of Mount Sinai, presenting meanwhile the audio visual effects of all times, we read in the scriptures, "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightning and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the shofar exceeding loud so that all the people that were in the camp trembled - and when the voice of the shofar sounded long and waxed louder, Moses spoke and God answered him by a voice."
Shofar of freedom:
This is the shofar of setting slaves free and of returning every one to their possession in the seventh (Shmitta) and fiftieth (Jubilee) years. This was announced by the sound of the shofar as it is written in Leviticus 25, "…then shalt thou cause the shofar of the jubilee to sound… ye make the shofar sound throughout all your land… and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Thus we see that the shofar is the bearer of good tidings and comfort of peace and tranquility to the world and further, the shofar will be instrumental in gathering all the lost tribes onto the promised land to live in eternal peace and safety.
Source: www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org 30 April 2009; www.shofarot-israel.com 30 April 2009
Name of the LORD:
YHWH Tzva'ot The Lord of Hosts
The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. (2 Samuel 22:14)
Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. (Joshua 6:4)
So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams' horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps. (1 Chronicles 15:28)
Sound the ram's horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our Feast; (Psalm 81:3)
With trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn - shout for joy before the LORD, the King. (Psalm 98:6)
Design by: David Stanfield & Sue Henderson