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Beit Midrash Series Parashat Hashavua

based on Aroch Siach, Yamim Noraim, p. 106

Great Shofar, Weak Sound

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In Netaneh Nokef, the liturgist describes the Day of Judgment in the Heavens as: "And a great shofar is blown, and a weak sound of whisper is heard." There is a simple question that begs asking: If a great shofar is being used, why should there be such a feeble sound? And if such a gentle sound is needed, why use such a great shofar?

Description of the activity in the Heavens is impactful. "The angels move around quickly, and they are seized by trembling." Even about the pure angels it says, "If in His holy ones He does not believe…" (Iyov 15:15). It is hard for us to understand why the angels need judgment, but we can easily make the calculation: If they are concerned, then we, simple mortal beings, who pass before Hashem to receive our allotment of days for the coming year, certainly have reason to tremble. It is not only as individuals; it is also decreed how the different nations will fare, and "He will tell a person that which he spoke" (Amos 4:13).

But what is really going on? The realization of the judgment is impactful if one’s ears, eyes, and, especially, heart are open. However, if one’s heart is unmoved and he goes through life as if matters are progressing normally, and his emotions are fossilized and his mind is polluted, then the mundane infiltrates the holy Days of Awe. Then we need to ask ourselves: Do we not have any belief in our heart? Why do we not sense the gravity of the moment and the significance of Hashem’s decision in our regard? How can we be callous to the fact that our fate is being weighed on the divine scales?

The answer is that we certainly are Jews who are believers the sons of believers. There certainly is a hidden part of our hearts that is sensitive, but it is dormant. The noise of the tumultuous city, the Satan, who is the Evil Inclination, silences the fine emotions and even the "voice of Hashem," which is a weak sound of whisper. Let us call out like the captain did to Jonah amidst the storm (Yonah 1:6): "Why are you sleeping? Get up, and call out to Hashem!"

That is why there is the sound of shofar blowing, which is reminiscent of the shofar of Above. When the great shofar is blown, we are able to break the earplugs and pierce the shield of the heart. "Fortunate is the nation that has people who know how to blow the shofar." The weak sound of whisper is actually the sound of Hashem in the Heavens, and it is likewise the spark of the Jewish soul.

Let us hear it! Let us be aroused to do complete repentance!
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