Boats and Horns

The sound of the shofar is such a visceral, ancient sound. When we blow the actual horn of an animal on Rosh Hashanah, it stirs in each of us a unique feeling. The shofar is simultaneously a wake up call, an alarm, a call to assembly, a call to action, and an announcement.

This year, because of safety concerns, we did something different with our shofar service. Combining it with tashlikh, the symbolic casting off of the sins into water, members of the Temple Beth Hatfiloh community gathered in smaller numbers across a number of parks up and down Budd Inlet, and I visited each site to blow the shofar.

While the original motivation was to do something fun and creative while observing coronavirus guidelines, the experience raised for me two other associations with the sound of the shofar:

First, a regular horn as you might find on a boat, or a car. This horn is to announce your presence, to let people know that you are moving forward, to warn people to get out of your way.

And second, a foghorn. This sound helps guide a boat when visibility is poor, it keeps us safe when we can not see what is ahead of us.

On Rosh Hashanah, we sound the shofar to declare that we are here, we have work to do to improve ourselves and our communities, and we are moving forward. And, as we are living in a time when we can not clearly see what is ahead of us, we hear the sound of the shofar to remind us that we are not alone, that there are others to help and guide the way.

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