Related by the Rav in his essay, "Halakhic Man", as published in The Rav: The World of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Volume 1, by Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, Joseph Epstein, 1999, Page 274
Did the early Hebrews also use horns to carry fire?
By the time of the exodus, Hebrews had access to incombustible metallic and fired-clay implements. Clay containers are heavier than horns, but the Hebrews had asses and other animals that could carry heavier loads than could be carried by the dogs used by Native Americans for draft animals. But perhaps in an even earlier era, Semitic tribes used ram's horns to carry embers.
In Volume Three of Hearing Shofar: The Still Small Voice of the Ram's Horn, I meditate on how shofar links us to the Four Elements of earth, air, fire, and water. I state:
"Fire: We have several metaphors that link fire to shofar. Fire is usually used during the fabrication of shofar, softening horn so it can be shaped. Shofar’s sound, like fire, is a manifestation of energy. Air can be blown through a tube to stoke a fire; shofar is a tube, and its call stokes the embers of teshuvah to ignite us into actions of tzadakah. More, prayers expressed through shofar are an expression of the fire in our souls, the equivalent of the flames on the altar."Perhaps the connection between shofar and fire goes deeper.
If you have any thoughts on this, please send them to me.
Every major paper covered the formation of the Anglican Church of North America, comprised of 100,000 now-former members of the 2.3 million strong -- make that 2.2 million -- Episcopal Church in the United States. But only evangelical magazine Christianity Today, gushingly enthusiastic about the split -- the breakaway Anglicans seem motivated chiefly by anger over the Episcopal Church's acceptance of gays and lesbians and women priests, none of which are approved by most evangelicals -- notes that the new church declared its creation by blasting a shofar, a Jewish ritual instrument made out of a ram's horn, traditionally blown on certain holidays -- or, as in the Book of Joshua, as a sort of battlecry. Why did the mainstream press ignore this unusual detail? Did it strike the NYT as too absurd? The Washington Post as simply confusing? I suspect this may be a case of the press neatening up some strange religion for broad public consumption.
Shofars have become popular in evangelical circles in recent years, and with them some very muddled notions about Judaism, Israel, and the role of the ram's horn in Hebrew Bible wars. The shofar blast that heralded the new Anglican Church doesn't align them with Jews, or, for that matter, conservatism, since there's nothing conservative about schism. Rather, it marks the breakaway church as part of a new religious movement within evangelicalism. Just as these Anglicans are drawn to the cultural politics and political theology of evangelicalism, many evangelicals are increasingly attracted by the pomp and mystery of high church services, and the intellectual traditions inherent in Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. There's a slow merger going on, but to achieve it, all sides will have to abandon a lot of tradition -- a big sacrifice for believers who see themselves as hewing to tradition against the currents of liberalism. That's where the shofar -- one of the oldest instruments of religious mediation -- comes in. I saw it -- heard it, rather -- a few years ago at another schismatic event, a gathering of ultra-right Christians from around the country who blew the shofar as a summons to spiritual war against what they viewed as a liberal conspiracy to write Christianity out of history. The shofar, one of history's most enduring instruments, was a symbol of their determination to claim history as on their side. So it seems to be here. Even as these Anglicans create something new -- a church actually founded on its rejection of queers, a movement opposed to the marriage of two men growing out of a denomination built on a divorce -- they declare themselves part of something very, very old, as if Joshua's men blew their horns outside Jericho because they foresaw Bishop Gene Robinson several thousand years down the road. --Jeff Sharlet
...But for many, hearing the shofar, traditionally blown in a synagogue during Rosh Hashanah services, can be a mitzvah far out of one's reach. It was for Pittsburgh, Pa., resident Dorit Sasson until a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical student came knocking.
"On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, I sprained my left foot" said Sasson, a writer who recently moved to the city. "I had never sprained a foot in my life, and I had wanted to hear the shofar. But my left foot was hurting terribly."
Sasson's husband and son went to synagogue, but she couldn't make it out of the house.
"Two minutes after they had lef, there was an incredible knock on the door. Perhaps [my husband] had forgotten his keys?" she related. "It was Chabad. 'Do you want to hear the shofar?' he asked."
Sasson, who couldn't move from bed, ended up hearing the blasts loud and clear through the door.
The woman is not alone. Last week, thousands either couldn't make it to synagogue or chose not to attend High Holiday services. But Chabad emissaries made sure that they took part in what Rabbi Berel Levertov, co-director with wife Devora Leah of the Chabad Jewish Center of Santa Fe, N.M., called the "most important part of the holiday."
Take Steven Cooper, a Santa Fe resident who hasn't been to synagogue in quite a long time.
"I have the Machzor at home and I read from it on Rosh Hashanah," said Cooper, referring to the High Holiday prayer book. "It is countless years, maybe 30 years" since hearing the shofar.
But there he was, in the historic center of his city, when Levertov with two of his kids in tow brought a big brown shofar, made from a long curling horn of a Kudu antelope, made a stop in the middle of a route taking him to area nursing homes and hospitals.
"For me, it was a very special experience when Rabbi Levertov blew the shofar right in the center of town," said Cooper. "It was an unbelievable experience of the rabbi marching to the plaza. He does not want to hide behind the bush with his Judaism, he is proud of it."
Sasson said she was grateful for her house-call. "It was such a blessing to be able to get door-to-door shofar service," she said. "I will remember this moment and the kindness of that man's heart and the Chabad community. I don't think I'll ever feel alone."
By Elana Mizrah on www.jewishmag.com
"They cried out and G-d listens, and from all their troubles He rescues them. G-d is close to the brokenhearted; and those crushed in spirit He saves." (Psalms 34:18-19)
"G-d supports all the fallen ones, and straightens all those who are bent. The eyes of all to You do look with hope, and You give them their food in its proper time…Close is to G-d to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely. The will of those who fear Him He will do; and their cry He will hear, and He will save them." (Psalms 145-14-19)There is a famous story about a little boy who went to synagogue on the High Holidays to pray. This boy didn't know how to read and he didn't know the formal way to pray. The only thing he knew was how to recite the aleph bet. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He lifted his voice in song and sang, "aleph, bet, gimmel…" as he directed his heart to Heaven. Those around him were very annoyed and wanted to quiet his singing, but the rabbi of the synagogue stopped them and explained to them that this boy's sincere and simple prayer reached higher spiritual levels than any of the prayers that they offered. He assured them that the letters of this boy's heart would be received as complete sentences.
I'll never forget what happened to me two years ago. It was my first year not going to synagogue on Rosh Hashanna. I was at home with my son. Even the previous year before that I had been able to go to synagogue because then my son had been a small baby who could easily be quieted with something to suck. But now he was too big, too active, and too noisy. I knew I couldn't take him with me and so I stayed home.
My husband and I had a plan. He went to a synagogue that prayed very early and he was going to come home during the break so that he could give stay with my son while I went to a different synagogue that started later. This way I could at least hear the blasts of the shofar. The time came for me to go and my husband hadn't come back yet. Little did I know that my husband had thought that we had agreed to meet by the park and was waiting for me there while I had thought we were to meet at home. I wondered where my husband was and thought that maybe I should go out and look for him, but my son was taking a nap. Why did it have to be at that precise time that my son needed to take a nap? I debated, "Should I wake him up?" That also happened to be the year when getting my son to try to sleep and nap consumed me. It was always a constant battle and now here he was, napping at the exact time when I was supposed to hear the shofar.
The time past and there was a knock at the door, my husband. We both spoke at once, "I've been waiting for you." We realized what happened. I ran out to try to find a synagogue that hadn't yet blown the shofar but I couldn't find one and didn't know where to go. I felt absolutely horrible. It was the first time in my life that I hadn't heard the shofar blast on Rosh Hashanah. Tears streamed down my face as I returned home to my son and words of prayer poured out of my heart.
Without a doubt I am sure that those prayers were as dear to G-d, if not more, than any prayer I could have said in the synagogue. Due to circumstances I wasn't able to hear the shofar and go to synagogue, but I was able to offer up to G-d the best and purest ingredients of my heart. While my children are young I know that going to synagogue might not necessarily be an option, but as King David writes, "Close is to G-d to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely." In any moment and in any place He listens to the supplications of our heart, He hears us.
If only there was a Shofar Corp volunteer who could have visited her in her home.
Found on http://www.jewishinstlouis.org/page.aspx?id=206710
Manchester Students Take Holiday Celebrations to the Homebound
|Residents of a Manchester, England, nursing home enjoy a performance by visiting yeshiva students.|
Coming off of one of the busiest times of the year, Jewish community members and yeshiva students in Manchester, England, said that a campaign to bring the fall holiday season to homebound and hospitalized individuals resulted in hundreds of people getting a chance to celebrate the High Holidays.
According to Rabbi Yisroel Cohen, the Lancshire-based outreach director for the Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva in Manchester, requests poured in from local families and congregations that knew of Jewish hospital patients, nursing home residents and other homebound people who needed to hear the sounding of the ram’s horn on Rosh Hashanah, make a blessing on the Four Species during Sukkot, or simply needed a reliable supply of kosher food. All told, Cohen coordinated visits to more than 250 private homes, 14 nursing homes and four hospitals, with teams of students in some cases literally meeting elderly Jews at their bedsides.
“Two weeks before Rosh Hashanah, we put ads in local newspapers letting people know that we were available to visit anyone who would like some company or needed kosher food for the holidays,” detailed Cohen. “We also sent letters out to nursing homes and hospitals, and to local synagogues offering our services.”
One woman called Cohen from Israel to ask him to send someone to visit her 90-year-old home-bound mother. While she would have otherwise spent the Jewish New Year alone, students came to blow the ram’s horn; she asked them to stay and sing some holiday tunes for her.
Visits took place during Yom Kippur, as well, and for each of the days of Sukkot, which ended last Sunday. Nachi Hazan, an 18-year-old rabbinical student, walked several hours to Manchester’s Hope Hospital to blow the ram’s horn for the facility’s six Jewish patients. Two weeks later, he returned during Sukkot to visit a total of 19 patients.
“When we got to the hospital on Rosh Hashanah,” reported Hazan, “one of the patients we visited was an 89-year-old man. We went to him last, so that we could stay with him as long as he needed us there. We blew shofar for him, and afterwards he started to sing a song he remembered from his youth, so we sang with him.
“He was really excited, really touched,” added Hazan. “So were we.”
After the visit, the octogenarian’s son, Howard Marks, asked his father about the visit.
“He was very pleased,” said Marks. “He appreciated their visit very much.”
On the last day of Sukkot, two volunteers took their Four Species – a combination of palm branch, willow twigs, myrtle branches and citron that are held together for each day of the weeklong holiday – and walked the neighborhoods. One man approached and said that earlier in the week, he’d been at Hope Hospital with his mother, the two of them feeling lonely and depressed.
At that moment, two volunteers “who were dressed just like you guys” stopped by for a visit, the man told the youths. “It changed our whole mood.”
Judaism’s CoreNearly 70 volunteers took part in the holiday effort, beginning the day before Rosh Hashanah with deliveries of honey cake, apples and honey, foods traditionally eaten during the Jewish New Year. While the home and hospital visits also take place throughout the year, the back-to-back holidays this month presented a challenge, said Cohen.
Health officials said that they appreciated the students’ drive, and that the visits helped improve the welfare of patients. John Saxby, chief executive at the Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust, which oversees Manchester’s Crumpsall Hospital, detailed for a local newspaper the cooperation between the yeshiva students and the hospital’s full-time chaplain, Rabbi Avraham Hillman.
“Chaplains have to deal with some of the most difficult human experiences,” a spokesman for John Saxby, chief executive at the Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust, told a local newspaper. “Chaplains nurture wellbeing, foster hope and support people. We are especially proud of the dediated work of our Jewish chaplain and his supporters from Chabad.”
For his part, Cohen said that his students see the campaign as a way to help Jews wherever they may be found.
“Visiting the sick is such an important task that in Genesis, we see that G-d Himself visits Abraham on the third day after his circumcision,” explained Cohen. “Caring for other people, especially the most vulnerable, is at the core of Judaism.”
He added that the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, devoted time and resources to supporting Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in their efforts to help the sick, the elderly and other vulnerable populations.
“The great personal care and interest the Rebbe took in this particular area serves as the inspiration and role model for the commitment of our volunteers, who spend hours away from their families, walking for miles in order to enable another Jew, whom they have never met, to feel the joy of a holiday,” said Cohen.
The rabbi told of one Rosh Hashanah visit in particular.
“We went to visit one man who was lying in bed because he’d fallen down the day before the holiday,” he recalled. “He wasn’t aware that his wife had found the time to call us.”
“I was just lying here, thinking for the first time in 40 years that I’m not going to hear the shofar,” said the man. “And, suddenly, you walk in.”
(words: Sean Altman & Rob Tannenbaum, music: Sean Altman)
It's a good night for the scalpers
Every ticket has sold out
500 bucks on eBay or you've got to have the clout
To get inside and seated at the city's biggest show
'cause everybody wants to be there when Murray start to blow
No tee-shirts with his name out on display
Nobody in the audience is stoned
They come just once a year to hear him play
They come 'cause Murray helps them to atone
The people in the front row all get splattered with his drool
But Murray plays so good even the bad Jews come to shul
Cause when Murray blows the shofar, all your sins get washed away
Every lie you ever told, every prayer you never prayed
With his lips around a ram's horn, he's a semitic Satchmo
All the Hebrews holler "Blow, Murray, blow!"
A Buddhist takes a vow and doesn't speak
And Muslims purge their sins with a Jihad
Catholics do confession once a week
But Jews got just ONE day to make it right with God
You cheated on your taxes & you're prone to masturbate
But the Gipper of Yom Kippur is the guy to clean your slate
Cause when Murry blows the shofar all your sins go round the bend
He's the guy who keeps ya kosher when you've nailed your wife's best friend
He's like Nat King Cole Nidre blowing a hymie hi-dee-ho
All the Hebrews holler "Blow, Murray, blow!"
He learned the saxophone in Harlem from the Ethiopian Jews
He jammed with Judy Garland deep in the birth place of her blues
One day he found his calling in a judaica shop
He wet his whistle puffed his cheeks and his high notes hit the top
Tekiyah, teruah, shvarim, Just the goyim
Do you want Murray to blow? (Yeah) 3x
Then blow, Murray, blowwww!
Rabbi Gottleib is a pro, Cantor Cohen is a gas
But if you're feeling like a shmo after checkin' out your buddy's ass
That's when Murray blows the shofar & all your sins go adios
Every time you touched your patients' tits while they were comatose
In the pasture every ram wants to be blown in Murray's show
All the Hebrews holler blow Murray blow...
All the He...brews... ho...ller blow (honk), blow (honk), blow (honk)
Murray blow... MURRAY!
To listen, click here.
Q. Why did the horn blower leave the synagogue where he worked?
A. Because he'd discovered he could only go just Shofar in the organization. It was not a Rosh decision. In fact, he felt pretty Kippur about it.
[for David Shapiro]
I hear the ram’s horn.
Do you? Do you remember
father, son, mountain?
old friend, mentor, fellow Jew,
you from New Jersey,
I from Manhattan,
and we met not in temple
and do you recall
when I visited Cambridge
I left you a note
with the Clare porter.
The world is charged (I wrote) with
the grandeur of you!
And then you came home
and I took your place over
there: at Clare College
Peter Ackroyd came
and asked me if I would speak
to the group on John
Ashbery whose new
book The Double Dream of Spring
had just been published.
How could I say no?
They told me you had spoken
on Frank O’Hara
and Aaron Fogel
had spoken on Kenneth Koch.
It was a good omen
I thought but then what
happened was rain rain rain and
more rain. And no mail
because of a strike
in England. There was always
a strike in England.
No mail, no phone calls
to America where my
father lay dying.
The gardeners burned
the leaves and I crossed the Cam
on Clare College bridge
daily, and daily
I went to Heffer’s and bought
books by Holderlin,
Mann, Gide, Henry James.
I imitated Rilke.
The sonnet for you
ran in Poetry.
More rain. Cold toilet. Bad smell.
And I couldn’t find
an English poet
younger than Larkin to like.
No mail. Pub hours.
Beer better than wine.
Awful food. Always hungry.
Had to learn to cook.
And that’s where I went
– to the sea of memory --
in temple today
when I heard the sound
of the shofar and prayed for
the living and dead.
-- David Lehman [9 / 13 / 07]
During September 2007, David Lehman and David Shapiro corresponded by haiku. This set of linked haiku appears in the September / October 2008 issue of Tikkun. Found at http://thebestamericanpoetry.typepad.com/the_best_american_poetry/haiku_exchange_/page/2/.
The Elysian Trumpet Prayer
infuse my breath with the spirit of harmony, and love.
and bring joy to the living, comfort to the afflicted,
and rest to the dead.
Bind up all of your children into your eternal oneness
which is the music of the universe, and the shining path
to unity and peace.
"The Tale of the Shofar" begins with a quote from Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlov (from Likkute Etzol Hadash):
In the tale, Reb Zalman and Reb Hayim Elya find a ram caught in a thicket on Erev Yom Kippur. Each takes one of the ram's horns to use as a shofar. The two horns maintained a connection such that when one horn was blown, the other would reverberate.
One year, Reb Zalman enters the forest on Erev Rosh Hashanah. In a clearing, he begins a walking meditation during which he envisions climbing Jacob's Ladder. Becoming disorientated, he starts to feel as if he is falling into the world below. As his descent continues, he questions whether the world is all an illusion. All that is tangible is the shofar that he has been carrying, and he gives a long blast on it.
It would be wrong for me to share what happens next. It is enough to say that, "in the spiritual realm it is possible to transcend space and rise above it."
"(IsraelNN.com) The Tzfat (Safed) Rabbinical Court ruled that the Ashkenazi HaAri Synagogue cannot remove from his position the High Holidays' shofar blower (baal toke'a) because he has been filling the post for ten years and should be considered tenured.
"The shofar blower had filed charges against the synagogue's manager (gabbai), who had removed him from his position."
Blowing shofar for the confined is a great mitzvah, and I recognize the following example of Shofar Corps spirit:
Fuchs student delivers a door-to-door ‘shofar’ service
|Hillel Davis visited aging Holocaust survivors’ homes and blasted his grandfather’s shofar during the High Holidays.|
By ARLENE FINE
Senior Staff Reporter, Cleveland Jewish News
Published: Friday, October 2, 2009 1:10 AM EDT "Hillel Davis likes to blow his own horn – if it once belonged to a ram. The 16-year-old Fuchs Mizrachi junior spent the second day of Rosh Hashanah sounding the shofar for very appreciative elderly Holocaust survivors.
"Davis, along with Jewish Family Service Association Holocaust survivor program coordinator Ellie Shoag, walked to several survivors’ homes in Beachwood and South Euclid for a High Holiday 'house call.'
"'These survivors are no longer able to go to shul because they are so frail,' says Shoag. 'Hearing the blast of Hillel’s shofar meant so much, they were brought to tears. Along with the religious significance, it signaled that they haven’t been forgotten.'
"The experience was equally meaningful to Davis, whose shofar was handed down to his family from his beloved late grandfather Rabbi Charles Tannenbaum of Patterson, N.J. 'It made me feel good to see the survivors’ faces light up at the sound of the shofar,' says the Beachwood resident who plans to make aliyah after he finishes college. 'I definitely plan to reach out to others again in this way. I know my grandfather would have been proud.'"
For more information on sounding shofar for the confined, see Hearing Shofar: The Still Small Voice of the Ram's Horn, Chapter 2-10.
"The Vienna Mahzor [above] depicts a man blowing the shofar with one foot raised up on a small stool... The custom of raising a leg on a stool while blowing the shofar seems to have been common in Germany in the Middle Ages and is often depicted in Ashkenazi mahzorim. ... The reasons for this custom are still somewhat unclear. One opinion is that the purpose of raising the foot was to separate between the man blowing the shofar and the ground he stands on, from which Satan draws his power. Another opinion holds that the custom is symbolic of the wish to elevate the sounds of the shofar as much as possible, in order that they reach the heavens." (The Jerusalem Post http://judaica.jpost.com/?storeid=44&view=articles&id=30 September 4, 2009)
"In some maḥzorim, a horned and claw-footed devil is depicted next to a shofar blower, who sometimes supports his right foot on a three-legged stool in order to ward off the earthly influence of evil. This is in accordance with the common superstition that a three-point object keeps evil spirits away (e.g., Budapest, Ms. A. 388, vol. 2, fol. 12v.; Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle)." (www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0013_0_13036.html)
|From Bibliotheque de l’Alliance Israelite Universelle, Paris as shown in Encyclopedia Judaica.|
Can anyone help me with further insights into this practice?
Do any current shofar blowers use a stool?
See interesting footnote at http://books.google.com/books?id=Ddnmt9c4BtQC&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41&dq=shofar+OR+shophar+stool+foot&source=bl&ots=HRIUYaKYdA&sig=h5RUJtq5COa6iXVoTk4pWZHuzEs&hl=en&ei=tH6qTMi0HY2ssAPVy_GBBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CEUQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=shofar%20OR%20shophar%20stool%20foot&f=false