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A shofar (Hebrew word) is a ram's horn that is used as a musical instrument. It is intimately connected with both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It originated in Israel for Jewish callings.

Three basic sounds make up the shofar's repertoire:

  • Tekiah – a sustained note,

  • Shevarim – three short notes that rise,

  • Teruah – a series of staccato notes.

The blowing of the shofar reminds us of the ram that took Isaac's place as a sacrifice on the altar and Abraham's willingness to obey God's command even at great personal cost.

The shofar proclaims the sovereign rule of God as King of the whole earth. At its sound, the immense walls of Jericho crumbled to the ground. It was blown at the coronation ceremonies of kings and warned the Israelites of danger when an enemy was advancing. And it announced God's miraculous intervention when the armies of Israel returned victoriously from battle.

But the most important call of the shofar takes place on Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. Referred to in the Torah as Yom Teruah, the day of the sounding of the shofar (Numbers 29:1), this holy day is also called Yom Ha'Din, the Day of Judgement.

From synagogues as well as private homes, the sound of the shofar pierces the early morning quiet during the month of Elul (month before Tishri), calling Jews to repent and seek God's forgiveness.

The sounding of the ram's horn reminds us of the imminent return of the Messiah. Without Him, there is no final redemption. The shofar awakens Israel's hope that the Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full redemption.