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Rosh Hashanah and the Shofar Blasts

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A common symbol of Judaism that is almost always found in the Jewish home is the shofar. A shofar is the horn of a kosher animal that has had the marrow removed so it can be blown into. The shofar is blown to commemorate Rosh Hashanah, also known as “The Feast of the Trumpets” or “The Day of the Shofar Blast” as it’s called in the Torah.

The mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah is to hear the holy shofar blast. Rosh Hashanah is a two day celebration, so the shofar must be heard being blown on both days – unless the first day falls on Shabbat. If the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on the Shabbat, then the shofar must only be blown on the second day.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, which falls 163 days after Passover, on the first day of Tishrei, which is the first month of the civil year and the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year, according to the Hebrew calendar. Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holy Days that occur in the autumn, and is believed to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. In addition to commemorating the days with the shofar blasts, symbolic foods are also consumed. In 2014, Rosh Hashanah begins on the evening of Wednesday, September 24, and ends on the evening of Friday, September 26.

All Jewish men, women, and children must hear the shofar blast in observance of Rosh Hashanah. Not only are the blasts a mitzvah, but they are also considered wake up calls, as Rosh Hashanah is the time when one must wake from their spiritual slumber and reconnect with God.

Usually the shofar blast is heard at your local synagogue, after the reading of the Torah. However, if there’s no way you can make it to a synagogue, you can call your local Chabad rabbi and request that he arrange for a shofar blower to pay you a visit. Although blowing the shofar may look easy, it must be done a particular way, so it is best to let a rabbi or other professional do it rather than attempting to do so yourself.

The person blowing the shofar will recite two blessings before blowing a sequence of three types of blasts. The first is the Tekiah, which is an uninterrupted blast that lasts for several seconds. The second is the Shevarim, which consists of three medium-length blasts. The third is the Teruah, which consists of a minimum of nine very short blasts. When performed properly, you will end up hearing thirty blasts from the shofar over the course of Rosh Hashanah. Thirty is the minimum amount of blasts which must be blown, although some synagogues will blow one hundred blasts on the shofar, which are interspersed throughout prayers which follow the Torah reading.

Although most Jewish homes have a shofar on display, those are mostly for decorative purposes. The shofar blasts commemorating Rosh Hashanah should be performed by a professional in order to get it right. 

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