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Shofar Meaning & Kabbalah

by L. Rappaport

The shofar is a widely recognized symbol of Jewish life, often sounded to rally the Jewish nation or to convey a sense of Jewish unity, particularly in the face of adversity. The shofar is most frequently associated, however, with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, when Jews are expected to reflect and renew their dedication to observance and to their own spiritual development.

Shofar Meaning & Rosh Hashana Service

Jewish mysticism, known as Kabbalah, discusses the meaning of the shofar and its importance in the rejuvenation of the Jewish soul during the Rosh Hashana contemplations. One such link can be seen during the shofar blowing service held on Rosh Hashana after the Torah reading. During this service the congregation reads Psalm 47: “All nations should clap their hands and call to God with a joyous voice because God is the highest and the most mighty… God ascends with the teruah with the voice of the shofar…”. According to the Lurianic kabbalists, scholars who studied and taught Kabbalah in Tzfat in the 1500s, this Psalm is to be recited seven times because it embodies the two main themes of Rosh Hashanah: the shofar and God’s coronation.

Renewal of the Covenant

An additional Kabbalistic discussion about the shofar relates to the “Tikun HaBrit,” the renewal of the Covenant between God and the Jewish people. This renewal is particularly important in our day, kabbalists teach, because we are living in the sixth millennium, a time which is connected to the “sefirah” — Divine Radiance — of the “Yesod” — foundation — of the Covenant. Through the Yesod God channels blessings and illumination into the world. The Yesod can become blocked due to man’s transgressions, which can cause an estrangement from God.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the renowned kabbalistic master, wrote that the the sound of the shofar rises to transcendental spiritual worlds via angels. During Rosh Hashana Jews attempt to reopen the channels between the Jewish People and God in order to receive His Divine blessings. The shofar has the power to unite the Jewish People with God by activating the sefirah of Yesod to bring Divine blessings down onto the Jewish nation and to the entire world.

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