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Why do we blow the Shofar every day during the month of Elul?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

The sound of the Shofar, Maimonides explains,1 is the call to Teshuvah. Teshuvah means returning to your true self. As we get closer to the High Holidays, we start looking back at our year and see that we’ve gone off the track here and there. We find that we have not allowed our souls to dictate our actions.

In the month of Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah, we start making our way back—to G-d, to our souls, to our true selves. The sound of the shofar is the wordless cry of the soul, yearning to break free of the prison of the mundane.

Historically, our sounding of the shofar on the first day of Elul harks back to the same date thousands of years ago when Moses went back up on Sinai to receive the second tablets. The shofar was blown in order to remind the Jews not to mess up again like they had the first time2. (See also What is special about the month of Elul?)

Also: the shofar is said to “confuse Satan” about what day is actually Rosh Hashanah and prevent his negative interfering with New Year. (Satan is not a guy with horns running around with a pitchfork. “Satan” in Hebrew means to “block” or to “push away.”3 “Satan” is the forces of negativity that G-d creates to challenge us and “block” our way to fulfilling our mandate. The sound of the shofar awakens within us the pre-verbal, transcendent commitment that silences the voice of darkness.) (See also Why don't we blow shofar on the day before Rosh Hashanah?)

[Ed. note: Blowing the Shofar in Elul is a Jewish custom, and no blessing is recited].

Footnotes

  • 1. Mishneh Torah laws of Teshuvah 3:4
  • 2. Tur Orach Chaim beginning Laws of Rosh Hashanah, Chapter 581
  • 3. Numbers 22:22

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