Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Former Rosh Kollel in Detroit
Rosh Hashana is Hayom Hagadol, the day of coronation of Hashem as King. On this day we declare to ourselves and to the whole world that Hashem rules the universe. Hashem created the world, rules the world and is leading the world towards wholeness/ perfection.
It is common practice to utilize musical instruments as part of a coronation ceremony. Which instrument do we use in our ceremony? The Shofar.
Why was this musical instrument chosen to be used as part of the coronation ceremony? The Shofar is seemingly the most inferior of all musical instruments. Every musical instrument has a unique personality and discerning quality. The violin expresses longing, the drum sets the beat, the trumpet calls the nation to gather, etc. The sounds emitted by the Shofar seem to have no discerning quality. Its sounds are monotone and even boring. If so, why was this simple instrument chosen for our coronation of Hashem as King?
Possibly, the Shofar was chosen for its simplicity. All other instruments are created by the handiwork of Man. True, the creations of Man are blessed and welcomed; yet we also know that anyone instrument created by Man has the potential to become a vessel of impurity. Although this is an Halachik principle relevant in the sphere of Tumah and Tahara , it contains within it an important idea: All creations of Man are tainted by self-interest, competition, jealousies, etc. While it is the role of Man to build and create, this process contains spiritual dangers.
The Shofar is the only instrument that is not created by Man. The Shofar is fully natural and simple. We take the horn of the ram, remove the marrow and we have a Shofar. And further, if a person takes the Shofar and covers its tip with gold the Shofar is invalid and cannot be used in the coronation of Hashem as King. The Torah wants us to use this natural and simple instrument in its most basic form.
The essence of the Shofar and the nature of it sounds are designed to remind us that on Rosh Hashana, during these holy moments, we should abandon all pettiness and trivialities and return to the natural pureness and integrity which exists in the heart of every Jew. The pasuk says: God has made Man upright: but they have sought out many inventions. (Kohelet 7:29)
All year long we are caught up in small-mindedness. On Rosh Hashana we stop and return to our true selves – God created Man forthright. We take the Shofar, listen to its voice and it reaches into our soul. From deep within ourselves, from a position of truthfulness we then declare Hashem is King.
The fact that on Rosh Hashana we separate ourselves from triviality and small-mindedness and busy ourselves only with the Coronation of Hashem as King is an act deserving of great merit. This act will lead us to be judged favorably.
Yehi Ratzon, that through our investment in Tefilla and the assimilation of the sounds of the Shofar, Hashem will accept our prayers and that the coming year will be a good and blessed year for each of us and for the community. May we all, among the community of nations, truly recognize that Hashem, the King of Israel reigns over all. Amen.