All across Los Angeles and the world, Jews this morning begin the custom of blowing the Shofar, a modified animal horn, after morning prayers. This ancient custom coincides with the new Jewish month of Elul.
Why do we begin blowing the Shofar – traditionally heard on Rosh Hashanah – a whole month in advance?
There are several reason: The Shofar is likened to a spiritual alarm clock. The 40 days leading up to Yom Kippur are to be a time of soul-searching, and repentance. The Shofar’s sound reminds us that we have to do the spiritual work needed before the Day of Atonement.
The Shofar is also a signal of victory and freedom. We are confident that if we do our job of seeking forgiveness from people we have wronged in the previous year, that God will forgive us. All our efforts to redress wrongdoing in the previous year are taken into account before we enter the New Year.
The Shofar is also a call to assembly for the entire community of Jews. Wherever one is on the Jewish spectrum of observance and identification, Rosh Hashanah serves to bring us together. No one is too removed to hear the sound of the Shofar, and no prerequisite is mandatory. The Shofar’s sound on Rosh Hashanah doesn’t distinguish – it works on all of us and ideally brings us all together.
So if you have not participated in the custom of hearing the Shofar blown in the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah — my advice to you is not to miss this chance. There is nothing that can prepare us spiritually and emotionally for the work needed to be done at this junction in the year more than the simple, piercing, haunting and beautiful sound of the Shofar.
To hear the Shofar – if you don’t have your own – just visit any daily morning minyan around Los Angeles. For details you can visit http://www.godaven.com/