by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students, Diaspora Yeshiva
On Rosh Hashanah, when the Shofar is sounded, there is a pattern which repeats itself many times throughout the service. There is a straight blast (TEKIAH) followed by a broken blast (SH'VARIM T'RUAH) followed by another straight blast (TEKIAH). Rabbi S.R. Hirsch explains that in the same way that the trumpets in the Desert (MIDBAR) were a call to Am Yisroel to journey forth, so too is the Shofar blast a call for us to journey toward becoming better Jews.
The straight blast is a call to listen to the message, and to contemplate, to reflect on the purpose of our lives and to tune in the message of Rosh Hashanah.
The broken blast is a call for introspection, to think about our values and actions, and how to change our lives for the better. It is a call to contemplate improving our fulfillment of the Mitzvot, and living up to the purpose for which we were created. The Shofar is a call to analyze where we are going wrong, and how we can correct our course. Our daily routines and habits can become rigid and unchanging.
We become comfortable with the status quo of our moral and spiritual lives. Rabbi Hirsch states that the broken blast of the shofar calls us to break up the way we think and behave, and to improve ourselves.
The concluding straight blast is a call forward into the future, with renewed conviction and direction and to implement our New Year's resolutions.
The Shofar becomes a call to action to move forward and develop, to become better people. The message of the Shofar is that we should not remain stuck where we are, and to be constantly moving onwards and upwards. The Shofar blasts shake us out of our complacency, to move to greater spiritual heights.
Our purpose in life is to keep progressing and developing, and the Shofar reminds us of this idea. The message to the Shofar is to quote George Jefferson "Movin' On Up"!