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D12. Blowing the Shofar on the First Day of the Seventh Month.    [Make a Comment]

We are to blow the shofar on the first day of the seventh month.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed is He):

Leviticus 23:23-24
ADONAI said to Moshe, "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar.'"

Numbers 29:1 (Maimonides RP170; Meir MP30; Chinuch C405)
In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you are to have a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; it is a day of blowing the shofar for you.

The Hebrew of Leviticus 23:23:24 says that the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei on the lunar calendar) is a remembrance of blowing (Zich'ron T'ruah), and Numbers 29:1 says it is a day of blowing (Yom T'ruah); the CJB translation adds the word "shofar" (a trumpet made from an animal horn) because that was what was customarily blown in Moses' time to draw the community's attention, to summon to assembly, and to sound alarms. That is why the first day of Tishrei is sometimes referred to as the "Day of Trumpets" (Yom HaShofar). It is generally understood that not everyone in the community need blow a shofar; it is sufficient that the community cause the shofar to be blown in public for all to hear.

In the Jewish world, the day is most commonly known as Rosh HaShanah (Head of the Year), and considered the "Day of Judgment" (Yom HaDin) when the "Books of Life" are opened, and we are called to begin an examination of our lives, with the purpose of repenting of our sins before the "Books" are again closed and sealed, ten days later, on the "Day of Atonement" (Yom Kippur). The day is also said, in Talmud, to be the anniversary of the creation of the world.

Scripture does not indicate the reason for Yom T'ruah, but its placement 10 days prior to Yom Kippur strongly suggests that it is intended to begin a count-down of days for personal introspection leading to Yom Kippur. This theme is reflected in Mishna Yoma 1 and its related Talmudic Gemara, that explain how the High Priest (Kohen HaGadol) was sequestered for purification seven days prior to Yom Kippur; that process would have begun three days from when the shofar sounded on Yom T'ruah.

This time of introspection from Yom T'ruah to Yom Kippur (known as the "Days of Awe" or Yamim Nora'iym) should be seen as meaningful to all Jews and all followers of Yeshua because, according to Exodus 19:6, Israel is a kingdom of priests (albeit not all of Israel are Levitical priests) and, according to 1 Peter 2:9 and Revelation 5:10, all New Covenant believers have been made priests as well. Priestly duties require time spent for personal cleansing, so what better use is there of the ten day period from when the trumpets sound to Yom Kippur? That notwithstanding, literal compliance with this Mitzvah, i.e., to blow the shofar, is mandatory only for Jews and K'rov Yisrael Gentiles. It is optional for Gentiles generally.

It is an interesting side-note that the Babylonian Talmud (b. Rosh HaShanah 29b) prohibits the shofar from being blown when Rosh HaShanah falls on a weekly Shabbat. The reason given for this prohibition is to protect the Shabbat from being violated by someone who might inadvertently carry his shofar beyond the prescribed distance. My position is that the Talmudic prohibition is blatantly incorrect as being in direct contradiction of several Scriptures that require that the shofar be blown on Yom T'ruah (which, by the way, is itself a Shabbat).

Daniel C. Juster
I believe that when the New Covenant Scriptures speak of a heavenly shofar being sounded upon Yeshua's return, upon the dead being raised, and upon His disciples (then alive) being transformed and caught up with Him in the air, they are referring to Yom T'ruah (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). This can also be connected to an eschatological time of universal repentance, including in Israel (Zechariah 12:10), that leads to a world-wide "Day of Atonement." If so, then the days between Yom T'ruah and Yom Kippur have teaching significance for all followers of Yeshua, and enhanced responsibility for the Jewish People, and for K'rov Yisrael Gentiles, who are charged with fulfilling the commandment to blow and hear the sound of the shofar.

Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch all refer to Yom T'ruah as Rosh HaShanah and state their respective Mitzvot as our having to hear the shofar being blown. This no doubt reflects their view (as it is also mine) that blowing the shofar is the responsibility of the community, but going to hear them being blown is the responsibility of each individual.

Of the three, HaChinuch is the most expansive in his discussion of Rosh HaShanah. He explains that the Mishnah in Talmud tractate b. Rosh HaShanah 2a considers the 1st of Tishrei to be the beginning of the year (for numbering the years), and that the blowing (or sounding) was determined, by the sages, to be of the shofar as distinguished from some other musical instrument. He also speaks of "t'ruah" as a broken sound, which he relates to man's need of repentance from sin.

HaChinuch states that any hollow animal horn may be blown on Rosh HaShanah, whereas Meir states that only the horn of a sheep is acceptable. They both state that it is obligatory to hear nine sounds of the shofar, consisting of t'kiah (a single unwavering sound), t'ruah (a series of short broken sounds), and sh'varim (several short unwavering sounds).


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