Does a lyric from a Beatles song explain the meaning of shofar?

Defining sound of Rosh Hashanah symbolizes effort, repentance and attentiveness


BP Graphic by Ezra Helfand

TESHUVA: Rosh Hashanah reminds us to be awake not only to repentance, but to what is happening around us.

By Zion Schlussel, 10th Grade

Blowing the shofar seems like a strange tradition. We take the horn of an animal, hollow it out, and then blow into it 100 times. But the shofar isn’t about the horn. It’s about what the horn symbolizes.

In addition to the message of waking us up and inspiring us, I believe that the shofar also symbolizes effort. I have personally seen a shofar being made in Israel, and I saw how much effort it takes. We take the shofar for granted. You see it, and you don’t even stop to notice it. In reality, there are so many steps to get the shofar you hear on Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is hollowed, sanded and polished with the utmost care.

The shofar should inspire us to put effort into everything we do. We can’t just take the easy way out in life. What you put in is what you’re going to get out. We need to take the time to “polish our shofarot.”  If we don’t, we will never achieve our fullest potential.

We are all shofarot. We have the power to motivate someone to be better. We just need to put the effort into being a better person ourselves, and in doing so, we can cause others to better themselves as well. 

It is said that the goal of the shofar is to inspire, or to wake up. Rosh Hashanah is a time to wake up. There is a lyric from a Beatles song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” that helps illustrate this:

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning, while my guitar gently weeps.

With every mistake we must surely be learning, still my guitar gently weeps.

This perfectly explains the message of the shofar. 

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning — the shofar tells us to look at the world and take notice of things going on around us. We like to be in our own world, but really, there is a whole world that we just don’t notice. 

With every mistake we must surely be learning — exactly what this time is for. We need to learn from our mistakes. That is the reason we have Rosh Hashanah – so we can notice our mistakes and learn from them. 

While my guitar gently weeps — the shofar is music. It’s one note that we hear 100 times. The note itself never changes, but as we go through Rosh Hashanah and the Aseret Yemei Teshuva — the 10 days of repentance — we change.

The shofar can mean something different for everyone, but I believe that it has one underlying message: growth. Be it growth in giving more effort in our everyday lives, or growth in taking notice of the little things, or being nicer and kinder to others, the shofar is here to say, “Wake up. It’s a new year, and a new time to grow.” 

May we each grow in our own way this Rosh Hashanah, be it spiritually or mentally. Chag sameach!