|hear the shofar/read psalm 27|
Elul -- a time to listen to the shofar and read Psalm 27
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To hear three beautiful High Holy Day prayers sung by Cantor David Margules, click here.
Last year at the end of Yom Kippur, we vowed to be better people. To love more. To ask less. To make the world a better place. Excellent plan. But over the course of the past year, each of us has strayed from the plan we made with our best selves, turned away from what our souls knew to be the right path.
The High Holy days are a time of repentance for Jews, a time for us to take stock in the ways in which we've missed the mark during the past year. A time for T'shuvah, for returning to our path and to G-d. During the month of Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah, we begin to make our way back. Elul begins on the same date thousands of years ago when Moses climbed Sinai to receive the second set of tablets. The shofar was blown then, as a reminder to the people not to again involve themselves with idolatry. In the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides describes the sound of the Shofar as the call to Teshuvah. We sound the shofar during the month of Elul to to remind us that the new year is coming, and to awaken our desire for repentance.
The sounding of the shofar, follows this sequence: (make sure you have your sound on, and click on the arrow next to the name of each sound).
Tekiah - One long blast
Shevarim - Three medium blasts
Teruah - Nine or ten short staccato sounds
Tekiah Gedolah - One extra long note
Tekiah - In the Torah we are told, "When you want to bring the people together, sound the tekiah." So the first sound of the shofar, the tekiah, is primarily a call, a urgent plea for us to come together. It reminds us that it is through connecting with other people that we bring life to our existence. We can't be Jews alone.
Shevarim - Literally, "broken". The Kabbalists say that Shevarim - three medium, wailing blasts - is the sobbing cry of a Jewish soul - yearning to connect, to grow, to change, to turn. At the moment the shofar is blown, we cry out to G-d from the depths of our soul. This is the moment--when our souls stand before the Almighty without any barriers - that we can truly let go.
Teruah - 9 quick blasts in short succession - a clarion call that proclaims G-d's sovereignty and presence. Not only to stand in awe and to bow in reverence. But to recognize G-d in the world today. In the beauty of nature, in a loving touch, when you help another. We acknowledge God's sovereignty when we look within ourselves and sense G-d's spirit moving us to be good, to be generous, to be compassionate, and to be loving.
As you make your own preparations during the month of Elul, you can visit this page and sound the shofar.
Psalm 27 - it's traditional to read this psalm every day throughout Elul as a way to prepare for the High Holy Days.
The Lord is my light and my help;
One thing I ask of the Lord,
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud: