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Shofar meaning: The Dubna Maggid’s parable

The Maggid of Dubno, Rabbi Yaakov Kranz (ca. 1740-1804), was a legendary Torah scholar and speaker, famous for his astute use of parables from everyday life to bring out deep concepts. The following parable hints at the meaning of the shofar and the type of preparation required for the shofar to have the proper effect on the listener.

A destitute farmer had a rich uncle who lived in the city, and who once invited him for a visit. Thrilled by the invitation the farmer wasted no time setting out for his rich uncle’s home. Upon arrival he was greeted warmly and led into a large dining hall with a long table.

As they spoke and shared stories about the family, the uncle picked up a brass bell and clanged it. Immediately, a troop of servants emerged from side doors with trays of appetizers. The farmer had never seen such enticing food in his life. The servants returned to the kitchen quarters and the two relatives continued the conversation. Shortly thereafter, the uncle clanged the bell again and the servants reappeared, taking away the old trays and bringing out new ones with the first course. The farmer’s eyes bulged. He had never seen such enormous quantities of food and such dedicated service.

This pattern continued throughout the evening. Every time the uncle rang the bell an entourage of servants answered his call, removing the old food and replacing it with the new. And with each clang the poor farmer was more dumbstruck.

Before taking his leave, the farmer thanked his uncle heartily. On the way home he made a stop at a local store.

When he came home he woke up his wife and excitedly told her. “You’ll never believe what I did!”

“What?”

“I spent our last penny!”

“You did what!!?”

“Don’t worry. I spent it on something you will thank me a million times for buying. Here, look.” And he took out of his pouch a brass bell just like his uncle’s. “This,” the farmer said, “is a magic bell.”

His wife looked at him as if he was crazy. Undaunted, the man proceeded to explain. “You’ll see, all I have to do is ring it and, immediately servants will come forth and serve us the most exquisite food, which we can eat to our hearts content.”

Likewise, sometimes people are prone to simply listen and find the shofar imbued with tremendous meaning.

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