Black Shofar of Shechem
Until the holy site
was insanely destroyed by villianous Arab forces, built next to Kever Yosef
(Yosef's Tomb) in Shechem ("Nablus") was a kollel/yeshiva called
Od Yosef Chai, most recently under the leadership of the renowned American-born
Kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh. Among the holy objects in use there
were two shofars, one the usual beige color, and the other a black one
that issued strikingly clear, sharp notes.
The first day of Rosh HaShanah
5757 [Sept. 1998] fell on a Shabbat, so the shofar was not blown. On the
second day, after the Morning Prayer and the Torah Reading, the shofar-blower
for the congregation prepared to perform the mitzvah. He preferred the
black shofar because it was easy to blow and yielded a strong clear sound.
This time, however, he was able to extract only a few weak tekiah blasts
no matter how hard he blew and despite the numerous attempts he made. Finally,
exhausted, he sheepishly passed the shofar to me, Yeshaya Ben-Pinchas,
that perhaps I could succeed in his place, with G-d's help. I had been blowing
the basic ten notes of the shofar in the Kollel every morning after prayers
during the month of Elul, as is traditional during this last month of the year
leading up to Rosh HaShanah. I too experienced great difficulty, although the
shofar was ordinarily so easy to blow, but eventually managed to produce
the required one hundred notes. Everyone in the hushed, trembling congregation
felt that Heavenly interference was somehow blocking the call of the shofar.
successful shofar blowing is considered a propitious omen for a successful
year. It was not long until the brave settlers who maintained the holy site and
the yeshiva found out the significance of the opposite. As you may recall,
less than two weeks later, on Erev Sukkot, a gang of PLO criminals laid siege
to Yosef's Tomb. They attacked, they burned, they plundered and they destroyed.
One of the precious objects stolen was that black shofar.
two and a half years later, on Friday 24 Adar, I went to visit a companion from
the Shechem yeshiva who at that time was doing his army reserve service
in the holy city of Hebron. He was excited to see me, bubbling over that he had
something interesting to relate. His eyes shining, he told me that one of the
soldiers in his brigade had mentioned to him that his father had somehow acquired
the black shofar that had disappeared from Yosef's Tomb two and a half
I was so stimulated by this good news! I still remembered
that startling Rosh HaShanah of 5757 when it had been so surprisingly difficult
to blow the shofar. I wrote down the phone number of the man who now had
the shofar and immediately went to call him. I introduced myself as a student
of the yeshiva at Yosef's Tomb, and after I explained the whole story to
him, he agreed that if I came to see him after Shabbat in Rishon Letzion where
he lived, he would entrust the precious shofar to me to return it to its
rightful place in Shechem.
Immediately after havdalah that Saturday
night, I traveled as quickly as I could to Rishon. The man graciously turned over
the shofar to me and then offered to tell me the unusual story about how
it had come into his possession and then to me. It goes without saying that I
"My brother has some business involvements with Arabs.
About a month ago one of the terrorists who was employed as a Palestine policeman
came to him. He gave the shofar to my bother as part of a deal, explaining
it had been found during a search of the houses of some suspicious characters
in Shechem. Presumably, the Arab in whose home it was found had been involved
in the destruction and looting of Yosef's Tomb.
"My brother didn't
know what to do with the shofar so he gave it to me. Three weeks later,
this past Wednesday, I encountered the son of an old childhood friend whom I hadn't
seen in many years. I told him the story of the shofar, which amazed him.
He responded that in his current Reserve unit was a student from the Od Yosef
Chai yeshiva in Shechem."
That student was the friend that I
visited. I was so excited that I decided to attempt to return the shofar
to its rightful home that very night! The bus ride from Rishon to Machaneh Horon
passed in the blink of an eye, and with Heaven's help I just managed to catch
there the 10:30pm last bus to Shechem.
As soon as I got there I ran to
the Tomb. Before returning the shofar to its place I decided to blow a
few tekiah blasts. The sounds were powerful and clear on the first try,
just like it used to be.
May it be G-d's will that in this time of our redemption
we should merit to soon hear the shofar of King Mashiach, the scion of
the line of David. And may Kever Yosef (the Tomb of Joseph) be taken from
their murderous hands and returned to us, and restored to its former glory.
and adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Torah Chayim #21, the weekly publication
of Gal Enai [http://www.inner.org] based on the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak-Feivel