The Sound of Simplicity – Month of Elul

September 1, 2016 at 3:46 PM ,

The custom in the Rebbe’s home is to sound the shofar for training over the course of this day (the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, the 30th of Av), and to begin sounding the shofar after davening (Praying) on the second day of Rosh Chodesh.

Why do we have a fixed day of Shofar practice before beginning the official sounding of the Shofar in Elul? One who is not yet qualified in blowing the shofar must surely train before the month begins, and one who is already qualified to blow doesn’t need to train!

Evidently, this non-obligatory and unspecific sounding of the Shofar is not only to train in the art of Shofar blowing in the literal sense. Rather, it introduces and leads off the teshuva process of the month of Elul and the High Holidays. This process culminates at the close of Yom Kippur with the sounding of a single long Shofar blast. This blast is called a Tekia Gedola, a great tekiah, but not Tekiah Arucha, a long tekiah, for its greatness is not only in the length of time that it is sounded. Chassidus explains that its greatness is its simplicity and lack of complexity, expressing a pure cry from the raw depths of the soul.


This unadulterated cry is essentially the theme of the shofar-sounding in Elul and Rosh Hashana as well, but to be attained truly it must be preceded by the “systemized” Shofar patterns of Elul and Rosh Hashana. Likewise, this is also the meaning of the Shofar practice on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul: to set the tone for the patterned Shofar sounding through the rest of the month. It does not entail the sounding of any series of sounds, but a simple “sounding” of the Shofar. This simple and unspecific burst of sound introduces and prepares us to call out to G-d from our most simple and pristine depths through the month of Elul and the Ten Days of Teshuva which follow.

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