by Simcha Shmuel Treister
The following excerpt is from Tikkunei Zohar, Tikun 21 p. 42a.
One of the central commandments related to Rosh Hashanah is to hear the blowing of the shofar, the ram’s horn. On the simple level, we are declaring G-d to be King, and this coronation ceremony is accompanied by trumpet blasts. The following Zohar translation deals with the inner meaning of the different types of shofar blasts and their purpose.
There are three main “notes” blown on the shofar: Terua, consisting of nine short blasts; Shevarim, three short blasts, each one taking the same length of time as three blasts of the Terua; and Tekia a single blast that is the length of the Terua and Shevarim combined when those blasts are sounded one after the other.
Terua: You shall break them [in Hebrew, “tero’aim“] with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalms 2:9) The Terua blasts are in the sefira of tiferet and break the power of the negative spiritual energies, the Sitra Achra, breaking them with powerful shattering blasts. These blasts act like an iron rod shattering pottery, and this is why King David chose the word teroaim, which shares the same root as teru’a, to describe a shattering action.
Tekia: Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them up in broad daylight [in Hebrew, “neged hashemesh, literally “opposite the sun”, so that the fierce anger of G-d may be turned away from Israel (Numbers 25:3). The teki’a blast is rooted in the sefira of chessed. After the people sinned with the Midianite women, who enticed them into idolatry, Moses was instructed to placate the anger of G-d by executing them and hanging them up on a poll. Note the similarity between the word for hanging up, “hoka“, and the English word “hook.”
The teki’a blast is rooted in the sefira of chesed. Here the verse is interpreted to mean that the blast takes the Sitra Achra and hangs him up “opposite the sun.” “The sun” is a code for Zeir Anpin, the loving and active influencing power of the Divine. Acts of kindness (chessed) avert even fierce anger. And the shofar is the [simple] voice. From her issues the voice [from which come the blasts of] Tekia, Shevarim and Terua. The feminine gender of the word “shofar” hints at the sefira of bina, which is the root of the sound that issues from it. She is the root of chessed, gevura and tiferet, which are the three sefirot represented by the different types of blasts made with the “voice” which issues from the shofar.
Tekia comes from the brain. The sefira above chesed in the diagram of the sefirot is chochma. This is the state of chesed in elevated consciousness.
Shevarim comes from the heart. This is reflected in the verse, The contrite [in Hebrew, “nishbar“] spirit is a sacrifice [in Hebrew, “zevach“] to G-d; O G-d, You will not despise a contrite and broken [“nishbar“] heart” (Psalms 51:19). When the heart is broken, as opposed to being full of itself, the light of the Divine can enter.
The word “shevarim” means “broken” and is related to the sefira of gevura since it takes strength, i.e. gevura, to break something. In the quoted verse, the same root word, shever, describes the contrite and broken heart. The higher source of the sefira of gevura is bina. This is reflected in the diagram of the sefirot where bina is above gevura, hinting that gevura, when elevated in conscious, becomes bina. Bina in turn relates to the heart. When the heart is broken, as opposed to being full of itself, the light of the Divine can enter.
The Shevarim blasts of the shofar represent the breaking of pride in the heart that diminishes bina consciousness. This also [represents] the broken, i.e. contrite, spirit that is the sacrifice to G-d. The harsh judgments are “slaughtered” (from the word “zevach“, meaning to “slaughter” above) by a broken and contrite spirit. The harsh judgments have hold over a person in a state of egotism. As soon as this state is renounced for true humility, these forces have no source to grasp onto and automatically fall away. It requires true gevura – strength – to conquer egotistical desires, but once this is done a person can receive binaconsciousness and truly see reality.
The sound of the Terua is from the wings of the lungs [the source of the sound], and the lungs and the windpipe contain it completely. They make the simple sound and the mouth makes the speech. The Neshama and Ruach and Nefesh of a person are also represented by the sounds of Tekia, Terua and Shevarim.
The nine blasts of the Terua require a deep breath. This involves the two wings of the lungs that represent tiferet, a sefira that is the combination of two others. The wind generated and carried through the throat represents bina consciousness and the sound completes the rectification of Zeir Anpin.
The mouth and specifically the lips make the “speech” of the shofar, namely the three types of blasts. Speech always represents the sefira of malchut and so in the very act of blowing the shofar we have a representation of the unification of the Divine. In addition to this, the Neshama and Ruach and Nefesh of a person are also represented by the sounds of Tekia, Terua and Shevarim.
The Nefesh is in the heart, and that is represented by the Shevarim as is derived from the [above] verse “a broken and contrite heart.” The Nefesh is the raw life force and is represented by the blood. The heart distributes the blood and so it represents the Nefesh.
The name Elo-him is mentioned 32 times in the description of Creation in the opening chapter of the book of Genesis. In Hebrew the number 32 is represented by the letters lamed (=30) plus beit (=2). These two letters also spell the word lev, meaning “heart”. In the constricted state of consciousness, the heart is controlled by these 32 names of Elo-him. In expanded consciousness the name Elo-him is replaced by the name Havayah, so that a person sees the mercy of G-d in every aspect of reality instead of feeling his own constricted essence.
The Neshama is in the brain, and that is the Tekia (elevated from chessed to chochma, as explained above).
The Ruach is in the two wings of the lungs that cool the heart, which is like a burning fire. If it were not so, the heat of the heart would burn the whole body. The secret of this is revealed in the verse “You shall shine like the wings of a dove covered with silver” (Psalms 68:14). [Silver represents chessed and the word “wings” hints also at the wings of the lungs]. The Ruach also includes fire and water chessed and gevura, and because of this, the Ruach is represented by Terua [which is in tiferet, which combines chessed and gevura]. Concerning this, it is written: “Happy is the people who know [in Hebrew, yodei] the Terua blast; they shall walk in the light of Your countenance G-d” (Psalms 89:16).
The nine Terua blasts are in tiferet. That sefira is below daat in the sefira diagram, hence the word yodei, derived from the same root as daat, is used to describe the state of mind of those who are made happy by hearing these blasts. Because they understand the spiritual source of these sounds and internalize their message, they merit to walk in G-d’s light.
Translated by Simcha Shmuel Treister and posted with permission from http://kabbalaonline.org.