Simple Sounds – Powerful Message

September 16, 2011 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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In just under two weeks, on Rosh Hashanah, we will hear the sounds of the Shofar once again.  Our sages teach us that Shofar blowing is what Rosh Hashanah is all about.  What is so special about these seemingly simple sounds?

Rabbi Michol Gourarie photo: Henry Benjamin

The Shofar is blown throughout the service in various different ways. But it always follows the same pattern: We always begin by blowing a “Tekiah” – a long straight sound. This is followed a “Teruah” (or Shevarim) – short, broken up, crying like sounds. These sounds are followed by yet another long “Tekiah”.
This is the formula: Tekiah  – Teruah  – Tekiah.

A great Chasidic rabbi explained that this pattern tells the story of our life journey, and expresses the power of Rosh Hashanah.

The long, smooth Tekiah is a symbol of purity, innocence and perfection. On the other hand the broken Teruah sounds are the challenges of life. They represent darkness, confusion, complication and frustration.

Our life begins with a Tekiah. We are born with a natural purity, with an untainted soul that is perfect and unchallenged. The innocence of a new born baby reflects the purity and holiness of the soul.

But inevitably, sooner or later, the long and beautiful Tekiah is replaced by the broken sounds of the Teruah. We begin to experience confusion, face difficulties, and are suddenly thrown into the ups and downs of a complicated and sometimes challenging existence.
But this is the power of Rosh Hashanah. When we begin a fresh new year, the past is not always so positive. Not everything in the last year might have been a Tekiah.  But on this special day we can turn it all around. We can learn from last year’s experiences and make the future more positive. We can turn challenge into opportunity; transform the bad into good and darkness into light, using difficulty and confusion as growth tools to emerge as stronger and deeper human beings.

And so we conclude with a Tekiah again. Out of the Teruah emerges a greater, stronger and deeper Tekiah than the one we began with. Light that comes from darkness is brighter than natural light. Smoothness and purity that emerges from challenge is deeper and stronger that the natural innocence that we experience at birth.
Hence the Shofar pattern: Tekiah  – Teruah  – Tekiah.

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